Prepper Myth#1: Golden Hordes and Cities Burning to the Ground


Real-World Urban Survival Skills

1 comment
Ferfal, I received your book and it has helped me learn a great deal on urban survival. The thing that keeps bothering are knowing the skills for an economic collapse, especially since I live in the US. I been read your posts, and from them, I keep hearing that you won’t be needing wilderness survival skills. What would you say, what skills would be necessary in a city? I know awareness and self-defense is necessary; I got a bit of awareness in me because I got robbed when I was coming back from school. Since then, I’ve been looking over shoulder and carry a knife with me wherever I go.




Hello Jesus, 


I did cover some of these in my book, “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse”. As you notice, buidling a shelter in the jungle and making a cooking container with a length of bamboo are great skills but they tend to be less useful in an urban, modern world society where there are other challenges which arent precisley improvising cheap, widely available items. 


Regarding Urban survival skills, I believe they have to be actually useful. They have to improve your daily life, being needed on regular basis or at least in likely emergency scenarios. Second, they should interconnect with one another and have as much benefits as possible.



Fitness and Nutrition: Staying healthy and fit has the obvious benefit of keeping you both aliv, healthy and capable of physical activity. Staying the obvious are we? Well, take a look around the fitness level during the next gun show or survival seminar. Fitness can be combined with some group sport (making friends, networking) ,some martial art (learning self-defense too, maybe meeting like-minded people) or outdoors activities like camping and backpacking.



Business/Sales/Marketing: If you are able to make money, you’re ahead of the game of urban survival. Sure, it will do you no good if someone is trying to stab you to death one night when commuting back from work, but making money is not just obviously needed to make a living, it also allows you to position yourself better in life, live in better/safer places buy supplies, pay for classes and move around with more freedom if needed.  When the economy goes to hell, someone that knows how to keep making money has an invaluable skillset. Good salesmen, guys that are good and keeping sales up are valuable to any company. Any skill or profession that is in demand and gets you a steady income, from welding(income+DIY combo skill points)  to nurse school (income+medical combo skill points) , can be the most important skill you could possibly have.



Finances & Budgeting: Everything from handling your income, savings, investments and expenses. Making the most of what you have is even more crucial when you have very little.



Second Language: It quickly becomes added value to whatever profession you have and in many cases it places you ahead of those that lack it, sealing the deal for many employers. Knowing a second language that is popular in your country gives you an edge on the street too.



Haggling & Negotiating: Haggling isn’t just about buying trinkets from a street vendor in Cairo. Haggling is the art of politely bringing the price up or down to your benefit. When buying furniture, appliances or cars on the second hand market, when talking about the price of a house or discussing a work contract or raise, the skill put to use is the same and the more you practice it the better you get at it. Being a good negotiator can save you hundreds of thousands in your lifetime.



First aid: Know what to do if someone is choking or having a heart attack. Take a first aid class, check with the red cross website or nearby hospital to find one close to you. Once you have the basics you can add to that more advanced knowledge. There’s classes and information online on treating gun shot wounds, stab wounds and such. As a parent you soon have a good idea of the illnesses your kids are likely to catch and you prepare for them accordingly.  



Security & Self Defense: Armed o unarmed. Personal and home security. Security is about knowledge, habits and acquired skills. Regarding armed self-defense, don’t assume you already know how to use a handgun because your uncle’s neighbor that was in the Army taught you how to shoot a few soda cans one Sunday afternoon. Take an actual class from a good instructor. Try adding martial arts, some knowledge on how to use a stick and blade. 



Awareness: Awareness isn’t just about keeping an eye on those around you. Its about keeping a constant yellow level of alert. Listening (shouting? Quick footsteps towards you?) and smelling(gunpowder? Smoke? Teargas?) your surroundings. Get used to identifying a second exit in whatever room or structure you walk into. The first one if the one you gained access through. 



Understand the Grid: Have an understanding of your area, your city. Where does water come from? Where does it go? If it rains a lot, what parts get flooded and why? Is there an underground river somewhere? Know where the power terminals and transformers are in your neighborhood. Watch the city/power/sewer workers and try to understand what they are doing, maybe even stop by and say thanks for their hard work and ask about what they are working on. Know which are the main arteries in and out of your city and which alternative routes you could take. What are the bad parts of down to be avoided and where trouble usually brews during protests and civil unrest. You probably know where the police station is, but what about the patrol routes? Do you see a patrol car or officer on foot on certain streets, certain days at a certain time? What about sewers? Where do they start and end. Peek if you can when a worker goes down for repairs and try to learn in what direction it stretches. Manhole covers are usually a good indication of that. 



Backpacking: While backpacking isn’t in itself training for urban survival, it does go along well with fitness and an understanding of essential gear and techniques, things such as cooking with basics, staying warm and hydrated and map reading and navigation. 



Defensive Driving: It’s not just about avoiding carjacking and kidnappers (even if that can still happen to you) but it’s also about learning to use your vehicle during emergencies related to drunk drivers and road rage which are far too common.



DIY: A basic understanding of how to fix and build things around the house can be very handy and it can save you a good amount of money as well. Its safe to say that 1/3 of the appliances I’ve managed to fix on my own had nothing more than a broken cable that needed replacing or some other simple obvious malfunction that was quickly noticeable after disassembling the appliance or machine.  If I end up having to call an expert, I make sure to stick around and ask plenty of questions so as to know how to do it on my own next time. 



Electronics/HAM Radio: With basic understanding of electronics you can fix most gadgets. Radio communication skills can be important during large scale disasters. Ham radio is also a hobby that may allow you to meet like-minded people.



Improvising and Coping: Improvising is closely linked to DIY, but it extends beyond that. Its about improvising in life in general. Knowing that if there’s no water you can flush a toilet with a bucket, that a few soda bottles full of ice and some plastic tarp can turn your freezer into an old school “ice box” during blackouts. Its about being “creative” with your cooking recipes if the budget doesn’t allow for much. I just got used to turning leftovers into something else for another meal, we still do that often. Stews are particularly good for that.


Then there’s coping, which I believe a lot of people will have problems with. A couple days ago I was reading in a survival forum a post someone made asking how to deal with lack of supplies during an extended SHTF scenario. A lot of people had plenty of suggestions. No one suggested what truly ends up happening: You learn to do without. At the end of the day, most of the stuff people worry so much about is not essential. Food, water, shelter and clothing. Pretty much everything else a person can do without. If it comes down to that, those are the ones that keep you alive. Other than medicines when needed, everything else falls into the “nice to have” category in a pure survival situation.


These are just a few, if you have other suggestions post them on the comments below!




Philippines Super Typhoon: Lessons Learned


Ready for Winter? Better get one of these!



With snowstorms already causing problems in the Upper Midwest and winter fast approaching its time to make sure you are ready in case power goes down.


Most of the basic Survival Emergency Kit material should be already in place. A battery operated AM radio, flashlights, plenty of batteries, first aid hit and of course food and water. Sheltering in place and avoiding any unnecessary travel is recommended but what can you do if the power lines are knocked out and you are looking at several days without electricity as temperatures drop? To make matters worse, there’s a good chance that you are stuck home and roads are closed. 
Ideally, you would have a generator already set up and plenty of fuel to power all your appliances and central heating until the lines are fixed.


The problem is that a generator big enough to get the job done in an average size house can be pretty expensive, and they do use a good amount of fuel too.


If what you want is to stay warm and heat up some soup and drinks you have other choices and that’s where kerosene heaters come into the picture.


Kerosene heaters have been around for over a hundred years and modern versions are still used as the main source of heating in places like Japan.


Kerosene Heaters have many key advantages for modern day survivalists:
1)Kerosene heaters are very efficient. Modern kero heaters are reputed to be 99% efficient, with a few liters of kerosene easily heating a small house or apartment for a week while the same amount of gasoline used in a generator may not even last a day.
2)They are affordable. You can sometimes find some of the old Perfection kerosene heaters in yard sales for little money and a modern and efficient radiant heater capable of heating 380 Sq. Ft. can be bought for 100 USd.



3)Kerosene is easy to store. Its not explosive like gasoline, and it doesn’t go bad nearly as fast when stored in a metal jerry can.


4)Some heaters can be used to warm up or even cook food with a pot or kettle placed on top of them.


5)A generator is noisy and needs outdoors space, making it almost impossible to operate in a condo while a kerosene heater can be used indoors safely and silently without any special installation.


A 10.000 BTU radiant heater will heat up a big room or living room and a bigger 23.000 BTU unit can heat up a small house. When buying a kerosene heater make sure you are getting a model that doesn’t require electricity to work. The latest state of the art kero heaters don’t even use a wick and are very efficiency, but they do need electricity to work.



6)A kerosene heater works on extremely simple, fool-proof and tough technology. They are still basically a wick that burns inside a metal unit.


This model is similar to the Corona I show in the video, and while it does use batteries, you can easily use it by lighting it with a match instead of using the battery operated ignition system.


A 23.000 BTU convection heater puts out a lot of heat. It does use over twice as much fuel and unlike a radiant heater it is not directional so it has to be placed in the center of a big room.
Using a Kerosene Heater
Kerosene heaters can save the day but they do require certain maintenance and care. 
•First, you have to be careful not to spill kerosene when filling the heater’s tank. If possible do it outdoors or in a garage.
•Kero heaters do produce a small amount of smell when turned on and when turned off. This can be dealt with by turning them on and off outside or just opening a window a bit when doing so. The smell really isn’t that bad and dissipates quickly. You just have to learn to live with it for a couple minutes. There’s no smell at all when the heater is running.
•The wick of the heater requires special care. Old heaters use cotton wicks and you have to make sure to never burn them dry or you’ll ruin them, so make sure to turn it off before the heater runs out of fuel.
•On the other hand, fiberglass wicks must be run dry, burn until they run out of fuel, so as to burn the wick clean. Fibreglass will not burn like cotton but all the gunk and tar will burn away. Have at least one spare wick for your heater.
•For cotton wicks, you need to trim the wick with a wick trimmer after a going through a few tanks of fuel.


•A dirty wick will burn less efficiently, cause more smoke and smell.


•Warning! A kerosene heater does not have exterior ventilation so you must leave a crack of a window open, especially in modern, very well insulated homes. Make sure you have a working CO detector as well before operating a kerosene heater. Dont be cheap about this. Your life is sure worth the twenty bucks or so a CO detector costs.
If you have to get by without power using only one kerosene heater you want to wear warm clothes( remember that a hat helps keep your entire body warm, not just your head) and maybe have the family sleep together in one big room where you operate the heater. The living room is usually a good choice. Close the rest of the doors so as to reduce the volume of air that needs to be heated and open a window about half an inch. While you need to be careful not to drop any liquids, some Convection heaters with a flat top can be used to warm and even cook food.


Make sure you have enough kerosene stored in blue containers to last you for at least a week, using the heater 12 hs a day.



5 Key Points: Preparedness for when Growing Older


Elderly Couple needs Advice‏

1 comment

Dear Ferfal,

My husband and I originally read your book three years ago and it changed our lives. We even considered buying a Dogo Argentino but settled for a Labrador Retriever. We are now at a point where preparing for a societal decline conflicts with preparing for our personal decline due to advancing age. We are in our seventies. Our health is good but could change in an instant. We would greatly appreciate your advice about our imminent decision: (1) to stay in our current rural village; (2) to move to a town located twenty miles away; or (3) to move closer to our daughter and her family in a suburb of a large city.

Our first option is staying where we are (we like it here) and hoping we are physically able to deal with the rigors of rural life until we are truly incapacitated and ready for a nursing home — or dead. Twenty-five years ago we moved to this area of a Northeastern (USA) state for job reasons. We have no family here. The closest big city (210,000) is a little over an hour away. We chose to live in a village of 2,500. Our house is on five acres. We paid off our mortgage years ago.

Our house is relatively isolated. We can see two other houses but they’re not close. Our property is not generally suitable for crops because it’s heavily wooded.  We found the massive trees charming 25 years ago and never thought we may have to grow food. On the positive side we are able to heat with our own wood that we pay a neighbor to cut. We have a well and a creek and we’ve stored water barrels in our walk-out basement.  We have good neighbors.

We’re on friendly terms with the local business owners; however our village has few businesses and fewer services. There’s a doctor but the nearest hospital/emergency room is 20 miles away. We have a volunteer fire department but no village police. We’re served by the county sheriff’s office, head-quartered 20 miles away, and the state police pass through periodically. While fire response to 911 is fast, police response is slow. Crime is actually very low — probably because most home owners (including us) are also gun owners.

We’ve have been prepping since reading your book and have about 1-1/2 years of stored food for ourselves and our daughter and her family. We’ve also collected barter materials that would probably get us food from farmer neighbors. In addition to our stored water we’ve stockpiled several kinds of filters. We have a septic tank/septic field. In the event of a disaster, we had hoped to provide a safe haven for our daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren but fear we may no longer be able to manage the day-to-day demands of rural living while awaiting the apocalypse.

Our second option is moving to a relatively prosperous, low-crime town of 10,500 that is 20 miles northwest of our current home — closer to our nearest big city.  We have no friends there but it has a wide range of stores, medical specialists (whom we’ve been using), a good hospital/ER and a police department. There are none of the gated communities you recommend. There are senior-living communities but their admission fees plus monthly fees are staggering. We would buy a house or townhouse with enough room for our daughter and her family if things go very bad. We’d move our prepping supplies but we’d have to deal with public water and sewers.

Our third option is moving closer to our daughter and her family who live in a small city of 120,000 about 2 hours due west of where we now live. They are both employed in highly skilled jobs that are not generally available. Our relationship is strong and we’ve regretted the long round trip has prevented us from seeing them more than once a month.

Their small city is contiguous with a rapidly declining major city of 270,000. The small city seems prosperous although real estate listings show lots of foreclosures. It has all the necessary businesses and services including a hospital/ER. We would have to use public water and sewers.

There are no gated communities and zoning severely limits the number of condos/townhouses. We would buy a small house and move our supplies. Our daughter argues she could help us with shopping/appointments as we grow even older, while her husband and children could help with grass mowing/snow shoveling/dog walking. They plan to stay where they are until the youngest child graduates high school — six years. It would be wonderful to see our family frequently, and a relief to have help on hand, but we dread not being able to offer the people we love a place of safety should a disaster strike.

With your experience of a country in collapse, would you recommend we stay where we are now or make one of the two possible moves? If we do move we should do it while we have our health/strength. We’re afraid we’re blind to an important consideration that’s obvious to someone like you. We will be grateful for any advice and apologize for the length of this letter. If it’s published please delete our email address. Thank you!




You bring up several important points.

A key aspect of sensible preparedness is preparing for those things that are likely to happen first. One of the few certainties in life is that time passes for all of us and (if lucky enough!)we all grow old. As that happens we’re more likely to need a hand from time to time.

My dear grandmother had to make a similar decision recently. Now almost 90 years old and being a very smart lady she understood that she would need a bit more help than before soon enough.  Moving with my aunt meant sacrificing some of her cherished independence but she understood that it was the best thing to do.

I would agree with your daughter about them begin able to help as needed. Also, it looks as if being close to them would mean seeing them more often, being close to your grandchildren as they grow older. That’s just priceless. I know I didn’t fully appreciate my grandparents as a teen, you could say I took them for granted, but luckily as I grew older I realized that I had to spend as much time as I could with them. It was great to drop by my grandparents and have dinner or lunch with them, or take them out for dinner or for tea to a café near by. I think your grandkids will appreciate that one day too.

Being closer to your doctor and hospital sure is an advantage. The same goes for being closer to your family so that they can help you and you help them when needed. From a practical point of view moving close to your daughter makes the most sense to me and it sounds as if you would enjoy seeing them more often. Having said that, its also important to live were we enjoy being. If you like your current home and enjoy your life there then that’s good enough reason to stay, so ultimately and choice you are happy with is ok.

I wouldn’t worry about not having a house out in the country for them to go to. You would still have a home for them to go to and the supplies you have would still be of great value. Besides, being closer means you can help on other less dramatic things like watching over your grandkids. That alone is a lot of help and saves your daughter from having to spend money on a nanny.  I know I would love to have my grandmother nearby. Just knowing that she’s keeping an eye on things is a lot of help.

Take care and I wish you both the best!


« Previous Entries