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Old 09-14-2008, 11:37 AM   #1
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Sydney, NSW, Australia
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Default Urban inconveniences


I have been reading a lot of survival stuff on the internet.

Here is a quote from a book I am reading called "When All Hell Breaks Loose" by Cody Lundin. The subtitle is "Stuff you need to survive when disaster strikes"

A sensationalist doom-and-gloom title? Maybe, but here is a quote from his book:

"You are directly responsible for your life. Through freewill, you are the directing intelligence through your heart, and what you think, feel, and hold your attention to is what you become"

In these words, many of the ground crew here will recognize a special light.

Im not recommending the book, I am only 1/5th of the way into it, but so far I love it. I have been learning a lot from it and I have been reading about survival and doing my "prepping" for a little while.

I wanted a way to introduce people to the importance of thinking about things that can go wrong, so I wrote a little essay. It is not for you guys who probably have a good idea of what is coming down, but it is to try to help with you with people who we are here to help.

I will try to post it as a message directly after this one. The idea is you can let people read it who are less well advanced in their thinking and who you believe need a little nudge in the right direction.


Last edited by Anchor; 09-14-2008 at 11:45 AM.
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Old 09-14-2008, 11:43 AM   #2
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Default Re: Urban inconveniences

Basic preparations for “Urban Inconveniences” (V1.02 11/8/2008)


People living an urban life have got used to state and civil services taking care of many of their day to day needs. For example: Garbage disposal men come each week and remove the rubbish, most houses have a range of services that includes: electricity, water and gas. Most have good communications (internet, telephone) and the TV always works! Trains and busses take many people to work and back each day, food can be picked up from shops, cars can get fuel at service stations on demand; the list of conveniences is long.

When these things break down or cease to provide the intended service, they can be described as “inconveniences”. How do you go about dealing with these problems, without needing to be helpless or dependant on others?

Interruptions to any of these services can range from mildly inconvenient, to extremely problematic. Short lived individual problems are usually mildly inconvenient, but when prolonged, or in combination with other problems can become extremely difficult and stressful.

You may be one of those people who have started to look more deeply into what you are told on the news and in other media and started to realise that the pace of change in the world is increasing. The once safe havens of the “first world” are assailed by natural and economic challenges. You may also have thought or be thinking about the possible impacts these may have on you and your family.

It is hard to ignore the massive impacts that some of the phenomena are having, for example: the state of the world oil supply and its associated economics, the other worldwide financial problems and the shifts of economic power and the distortions and changing consumption patterns that arise out of the apparent human need to fuel the change.

Put this together with large natural environmental upheavals such as tsunami, cyclones, bush fires, drought, abnormal rainfall, earthquakes, floods and landslides and it is clearly evident that nothing is certain anymore.

Travel is becoming less convenient and more expensive. Some foods are in short supply in “first world” countries. In Australia , at the time of writing, signs appear in supermarkets apologising for and explaining why there are supply problems with staple foods like rice.

However this article is not about TEOTWAWKI. In fact, if you know what that acronym means, then you probably don’t need to read further. If you didn't know that it means “The End of the World as We Know It”, you probably want to read on, but this is not a survivalist treatise, it is not about doom and gloom. The cause of the disruption is largely irrelevant, it is still inconvenient when it happens.

Most people think that they will be looked after during emergencies of the nature discussed here. That may be true. Often Australia's SES does help; you always see them out after storms and floods helping to clear up. They are really good, but they can get stretched during bigger scale disasters, when that happens, they have to prioritise - and that might mean they won't have the time or resources to help you. However, there are some simple things you can do that will reduce your dependence on others - and then it won't matter so much that your rescuers are too busy to help you.

Even if you do nothing, you should at least think these things through!

Scenarios to consider planning for

Following are some imaginary scenarios, which could be quite possible.

The idea is to consider these possibilities and what your response would be to each one. Do you have a plan to cope in each case? Have you prepared? Will you wait for it to happen and sort it out there and then, or hope that someone will come and save you? Do you own some really simple and inexpensive items that could help you cope?

Scenario: Supplies that you want have run out in the shops

You run out of soap or toothpaste, contact lens fluid – whatever - you run out of something you need on a regular basis and it isn't in the shops.

The list of things you can run out of, with the potential to really be irritating is quite long. Each person's list will be different. Life without toilet paper is unthinkable for many people!

You can make a list of things you really can't do without and ensure you don’t run out. You could choose to implement a "first in first out" stock control system, but even if you don’t, having some spares of essential items may one day save you from being inconvenienced.

An alternative approach is to consider your list of "essential" items and learn what it is really like without them - can you find alternatives? Can you make do? That way at least you know in advance if you could cope - and it helps sort out the priorities about what is really important. Have you ever, for example, seriously considered what you would actually do without toilet paper?

Combination scenario: Energy shortage - cold weather - fridge content spoiled

The energy supply to your domestic air/water heater fails. Often gas heaters have backup electrical immersion heaters, for this exercise pretend it is broken, and it's going to be a few days before it will be fixed.

The electricity was cut off and has still not been restored after 3 days, your fridge and freezer is now at room temperature, and the food in them is not going to keep for long.

The kid's electrical toys don’t work, the internet is down and the TV isn’t working. You have gas heating but it relies on an electrical fan or pump. It is winter, it is very cold and the lack of light in the evening is getting to be very irritating.

Here are your problems broken down: heating, lighting, suitable food, cooking (if you don't have gas), and entertainment. Think about each one - how are you going to get through this one? Do you have any alternatives? Perhaps you have a small stock of candles or oil lamps, or battery powered torches? At the extreme, you could even use a small petrol generator.

Camping gear is very useful in this scenario - especially cookers and lights that run on bottled gas. In Australia, depending on location, you may not need heating, just extra clothes, but if you do, what are your options? Are they: kerosene, propane (aka LPG), butane or petrol etc or firewood?

Furthermore, consider what you would do if the electrical power went out for: 4 hours, 1 day, 3 days, 7 days, or … longer. You may not know how long it will be down for. Initially the phones will stay working, but after a few days the phone company’s batteries may become depleted - you could lose your ability to use the phones. Cell phones are the same or worse, because you might not have a way to recharge them anyway.

Sometimes in prolonged shortages, and assuming the electrical distribution grid that gets the power from the power station to your house is working, most supply infrastructures will implement rolling power-cuts. This is where you get power for some parts of the day, but then it goes again on a regular basis – thereby sharing out the power amongst all the consumers.

Note: if you are going to use devices that burn fuel like oil lamps and candles – make sure you have a fire blanket or fire extinguisher and that everyone knows how to use them. Also ensure that your smoke detectors are working.

Remember, in winter, where you live it may get cold. Without heating this can be a nasty experience, especially if you are used to a warm house. Even if you have gas, your system may rely on electricity to pump either hot air or water through your heating systems. Find out if this is going to be a problem. Do you have effective indoor clothing? Do you have extra blankets for your bed or a thicker doona (duvet)? Do you have thick wool socks and warm house shoes that you can live in to stop your feet feeling really cold! A warm hat is essential when it gets very cold – you might even need to sleep with a hat on! Consider thermal underwear, good quality thermals are expensive, but when you get cold - there is nothing like it.

Scenario: Fuel (gasoline/petrol) shortage

A major refinery and fuel depot has suffered massive storm damage and is not operational. The sea-ports were already congested. It has been 3 days, the gas-stations are dry due to panic buying and your car is nearly out of fuel. You may have to walk 6 miles to the station just to get to work. Everyone else has the same problem including cabs and taxis.

Now what? Firstly it will help you to be fit and used to walking distances. Ensure you have good shoes, and don’t overlook the role that socks play here. Socks for walking are usually tougher and generally made of wool or have a high wool content. Another option would be a push-bike. No many people have these nowadays and so now might be a good time to think about that, since they wont be available when you need them.

Scenario: First aid

You are 4 days into a petrol/energy crisis. To make matters worse, you cut yourself preparing food and it is a deep cut! You try to stop the bleeding but it is hard to stem the flow of arterial blood. You know its arterial blood because it is bright red. If you didn’t know that then you need training.

Do you know what to do? Worse, an ambulance is called, they are overwhelmed and can't get out to you - they try to tell you what to do over the phone! Not much good unless you have the right equipment.

First aid training is a must and some basic first aid equipment must be on hand. If you have sharp knives in your house, and most people who cook do, then you should also have first aid supplies and know exactly where they are and how to use them. (Also remember about burn treatment, if you have fuel based fires – including candles!)

Scenario: Sudden lack of lighting in the dark.

You are walking along a quiet road at night at new moon on a cloudy night. There is a sudden area wide power cut - the streetlights go out. All the ambient light sources from nearby houses go out. It is really dark.

After 10 minutes or so, your eyes will be adjusted to the dark. You might just be able to make out where the road goes.

In the case above, a simple LED key-ring torch can save you some problems and some can provide several hours of light. Failing that you may have to wait for a passing car's lights to show the way - but these can damage your night vision.

Scenario: House fire during blackout

You are 4 days into a prolonged electrical power cut you are using candles or oil lamps for lighting. An accident starts a minor fire in your house. The smoke detectors go crazy. Do you have a fire extinguisher or fire blanket within 10 meters of any part of your house?

Are you going to wait for the fire brigade to save what is left of your house? How are you going to call them, the phones are down because of the power cut!

Do you have all your critical documents (insurance, house deeds, licenses, passport, etc) in a bag ready for a fast exit? If not, a more expensive option but worth considering: do you your documents in a fire proof safe? Do you have any essential backups of your computer – or can you afford to loose it? A fire proof data-safe may be a worthwhile investment.

Scenario: No car to do the shopping with

You can’t use your car – for various possible reasons, it doesn’t matter why. You have to walk to the shops, assuming they have what you want, how will you get it home?

Do you have a shopping trolley or a backpack to carry your shopping home? Do you have some food to get you by for a few days so you don't even need to get to the shops?

Scenario: Stuck on a train

You are on a train, on the way home. The train stops, the lights go out. After about 30 minutes someone who has web access on their phone finds out that it's going to be another 4hrs before the train can move again. You are starving hungry and were already getting a bit thirsty

Do you have some water in your bag? Maybe you have a couple of snack bars?

Someone faints and needs water – do you have any to give them?

Do you carry a basic first aid kit?

Scenario: Prolonged outage of mains water cut off

Most people in cities, especially here in Australia, know about drought and water restrictions. 3 years in 10 on average are drought years. Recent news stories indicate that this risk is now up to 1 in every 3 years. The taps in the cities have never run dry.

Chances are you have never thought about this and it is very serious! This is probably the one "inconvenience" that could kill you - you need drinking water, or you can be dead within three to four days.

Consider the scenario where the main’s is still cut off after 7 days! You have to queue up for hours to fill containers at a stand pipe or from an emergency water tanker. Do you have some convenient sized containers that you can carry when full of water all the way down the road? If this keeps up you won't have any clean clothes left, drinking and cooking are priority for rationed water. What about that toilet? A useful item in this scenario is a small trolley that you can put water containers on and roll them back to your house. Remember water is heavy, ensure that it is rated to carry the weight you will use it for, for example: two big camping jerry cans full of water can weigh up to 50Kg (110lbs)

There are lots of things to think about here: immediate problems are alleviated by having some water stored away somewhere. Aim for 3 days supply at 4-10 litres per person per day.

A water supply emergency would probably receive high priority from the government and water companies, but how much are you prepared to bet on that?

Based on what you are able to lift, purchasing of one or more 10 or 20 litre water containers and filling with water, could make all the difference on the first day. When empty you now have a convenient vessel to fill at the standpipe/emergency water truck. Alternatively how much does it cost to put aside 6 x 1.5 litre bottles of water from the shops for emergencies? Not much. If you can lift it, supermarkets often sell bulk "spring water" containers - 12-15 litres capacity. These are excellent for our purpose as the water is quite pure, well sealed and keeps a long time.

What are the alternative water supplies that you could use? If the situation isn’t too bad, then water trucks will come round, but what if they don't? What will you do when your reserves run out? Is there a river or spring nearby? Learn about natural water and the precautions you need to take. Find out about waterborne pathogens and how to get rid of them. Boiling works but if you can't do that there are other methods such as filtration and chemical sterilization, these techniques are beyond the scope of this essay – but easily researched on the internet.

Scenario: Prolonged power cuts means that you cant use credit cards

Your only way out here is cash. This gets complex as most people would not want to store more than a few hundred dollars in cash in the house, and insurance rarely covers much cash.

Check the terms of your insurance policy to see what is allowed and plan accordingly.

If you have a locking fireproof safe (see above), it may be security rated enough to allow the storage of more cash – again check your insurance policy.

Scenario: You are at work. During the day some event causes gridlock, also trains are suspended and all traffic is at a standstill, it won’t be moving for many hours.

How do you get home? If you can’t, do you have the basic necessities to endure a night spent in the office? A basic overnight kit in your office draw will make all the difference. For example: Toothbrush, Razor and perhaps a wash kit; it can be as simple or as elaborate as you want.

It is at times like this when a little stash of food bars/drinks can make all the difference.


These lists are not extensive. Start by considering the list below as a minimum, but you might want to add more depending on your planning you wish to do and your current situation and living circumstances.

Here is a basic recap what you might need in your house:

• Small store of drinking water - either bottled with a use-by date, or filled by you with mains water and refreshed regularly.
• 10L or 20L water “Jerry” cans. Ensure these are food grade plastic and have not been used for anything else other than drinking water.
• Some means of heating food (eg: gas powered camping stove)
• Some lighting solutions that don't depend on the mains electricity or gas. Eg. candles, LED lights, flashlights etc. Aim for enough batteries for 3 days. You can also get solar rechargers for household rechargeable batteries
• Battery operated FM radio – this might be the only way to get news. If you have more money, get a radio that can do shortwave as well. Expensive option: hand cranked radio.
• At least 3 days (or more) of easy to prepare long life or non-perishable food (canned, freeze dried etc).
• First aid kit(s) – including burn kit, and depending on your area: snake-bite kit.
• Fire extinguisher(s) / fire blanket - preferably both
• Effective indoor cold weather clothing
• Walking shoes
• Shopping trolley / Backpack
• Some cash (safely stored)
• Fireproof safe for essential documents
• Backups of your computer

Gear - outside the house

Every Day Carry

Let’s recap what you should carry on your person when you are out and about in an urban environment:

• Water bottle (never let it get empty)
• High energy snack bar(s)
• LED torch
• In summer consider carrying a small tube of sun-screen, and ensure you have a hat. (In case you need to be outside in the sun for prolonged periods – maybe due to extended walking).
• Small folding knife (blade length less than 7cm, non-locking and not automatic to avoid problems with law) with tools (can-opener, bottle opener, scissors, tweezers, toothpick etc) ... A standard size Swiss Army Knife is perfect.
• Wherever you are - always make sure you have access to comfortable walking shoes that you could easily walk a few kilometres in. If you wear high heels to work, this may mean you need a spare pair of shoes at work or in the car in case you need to walk home.

CAR KIT (urban setting)

All of the above, plus these suggestions

• Larger supply of drinking water
• Appropriate tools for your car
• More comprehensive First Aid kit including burn treatments
• Some food
• Tissues/Toilet paper/Baby Wipes
• Torch
• Blanket(s)
• Paracord
• Fire extinguisher
• Waterproof tarpaulin or groundsheet


That's it. Any feedback welcome.


PS: I wrote the above. Nothing above is copyrighted by me in anyway, use it!

Last edited by Anchor; 09-14-2008 at 01:25 PM.
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Old 09-14-2008, 12:44 PM   #3
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Join Date: Sep 2008
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Default Re: Urban inconveniences

Truly excellent post Anchor!

Thank you for both taking the time to compile this information and subsequently sharing it with all of us here.

You structured it so well that I'll be printing it out and using it as a checklist.

You mentioned in your pre-list post that you want get people at least thinking about these things which I wholeheartedly agree with.
I too have been doing research of this type and have found opportunities every other day or so to work progressively on preparedness goals.


You're dead on correct about the importance of toilet paper.
A simple thing everyone can do is simply not finish the entire roll you have going in you're bathroom right now.
Save the last quarter of it; they're easy then to compact. Consider getting a vacu-sealer to keep them nice and tidy dry.
And/or invest in resealable waterproof bags (not the kitchen type, the heavy duty kind you can get in stores that sell a wide range of camping gear).


On a related tip, I have a question(s) for you that I have not read techniques on nor have I seen discussion about:

Have you come across any suggestions for alternate forms of local communication during a 'basic systems down' scenario?
How can we get messages and instructions to friends/relatives/lovers if we're separated across town from each other?
(I'm thinking - no mobile or land phone, no postal, neither pony express nor carrier pigeon)

Last edited by Undooz; 09-14-2008 at 12:54 PM. Reason: clarification and clever addition
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Old 09-14-2008, 01:42 PM   #4
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Posts: 2,280
Default Re: Urban inconveniences

Have you come across any suggestions for alternate forms of local communication during a 'basic systems down' scenario?
How can we get messages and instructions to friends/relatives/lovers if we're separated across town from each other?

Faith, trust and guidance of your inner-voice should be the only thing you need, but since we are not all perfect yet ...

In Australia we have UHF CB radio, that can work and I plan to get some good quality units while I still can. They are limited in range though. They wont reach from where I work to home!

Cool as they are, they are just "tools" and may help, but when TSHTF, you will only have what is with you at the time

The real thing is plan ahead, be prepared and vigilant, so you see the signs early of a disaster and allow yourself to be guided out of harms way.

You need to pre-arranged drills with back-ups for re-establishing contacts, evacuation scenarios. The bigger your network of friends the easier this is.

In a disaster my priority will be to get home, and my SO knows this. However if a bushfire is moving towards my house then we have pre-arranged plans, so I should know what she will do. However, if that plan stuffs up there are fall backs; and fall backs for fall-backs. For example: I may be delayed because I need to help those around me. She knows that and will wait in complete faith that I will try my utmost to get back eventually. While I am gone she will be busy filling the bath with water etc

The first casualty of any situation (engagement with the enemy) is the plan! You need a plan with robust backups. You need to plan for that horrid possibility that it might take 2-3 days to get back to where your tribe is.You and your loved ones need to know that whatever happens - in the end, no matter the outcome in this physical realm, it is all for the best, and there is a reason for everything.

Yours fearlessly,

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Old 09-16-2008, 12:22 AM   #5
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 503
Default Re: Urban inconveniences

I read this a while back after hearing the author on the radio with Ian Punnet. Definetly a good read, written for the layman.
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Old 09-25-2008, 07:20 PM   #6
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Default Re: Urban inconveniences

Have you come across any suggestions for alternate forms of local communication during a 'basic systems down' scenario?
How can we get messages and instructions to friends/relatives/lovers if we're separated across town from each other?
(I'm thinking - no mobile or land phone, no postal, neither pony express nor carrier pigeon)[/QUOTE]


Look into HAM radios. These were used in Katrina... and practically all disaster situations. You can communicate across the world with them through 'receivers'. Just google Ham Radio and you will find tons of info.

I just picked one up yesterday - Yesau 170 handheld. Waterproof, super durable.

These are like walkie talkies that extend 30 miles. With line of site they can extend much further. You can also go through 'receivers' which route your message through higher power intenas that then send your signal to further points across the world.

Hope this helps!
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Old 09-25-2008, 08:10 PM   #7
Avalon Senior Member
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Northern New Jersey
Posts: 13
Default Re: Urban inconveniences

How much do the HAM radios go for ? I am seriously thinking of picking up a small small fishing boat, living so close to the Hudson and Passaic River has made me a little paranoid these days.
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Old 10-04-2008, 05:13 AM   #8
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Turtle Island
Posts: 2,776
Default Re: Urban inconveniences

I've posted this on another thread, but here it is:

On this Site you can download:

Army Survival Manual
http://projectavalon.net/us_army_survival_manual.pdf 277 pages

Also Survival & Self-Reliance Studies Institute - Mega amounts of info.
Goods for Barter, Outdoor Survival, you name it, I think it's there.
Requires you do some searching

Patrick Kelly Free Energy Guide 1776 pages
How to boil water and more.

With Peace and Love in Mind,
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