Urban Survival Tools


Wilderness survival is a hot topic these days.

. . . not just for people concerned about preparing for disaster.

The New York hunt for escaped convicts made us all think about the challenges of staying alive and hidden in a heavily forested area, not to mention how to find food.

On T.V., a new season of “Survivor” programs is being advertised, following the pattern of past years — put a person or a team into the wilderness (Panama, Alaska) with few if any tools – sometimes even naked — to see how they stay alive. Make sure they also attract viewers.

Many of us watch these survival activities sitting in front of a TV in our living room. Step outside, and there’s no real wilderness to be found within a hundred miles!

Aftermath of disaster

How to start?

In the aftermath of a disaster, we need urban survival skills.

For us, urban survival skills that allow us to shelter in place are what will make the difference.

Take another look at shelter.

Assume your home or building has been damaged, by storm, earthquake or even looting. What might you need in order to make sure it’s habitable, since you have no place else to go?

  • Basic hand tools and supplies

Power tools are out. You are likely to have the following tools at home now, or can get them locally. Consider quality. Poor tools are dangerous and ineffective.

With a good hammer, saw and/or hacksaw, and pry bar you can remove debris. Add a tarp or plastic sheeting and tape to your supplies and you can turn a damaged room or wall into a place that is structurally safe and at least somewhat protected from the elements.  Don’t forget heavy work gloves. You can’t do this sort of work bare handed.

  • Dealing with metal

Of course, not everything can be disassembled by force. In an urban setting you may need to open metal cabinets, remove fallen ceiling ductwork, get into utility closets, etc.. To do this, you’ll need to unscrew, unlock or cut wire or metal. (A pair of safety goggles is a good idea, here.)

Recommended specialty tools for dealing with the aftermath of an urban disaster.

A very good multi-tool can be easily stored and can serve a number of these construction purposes. (Avoid a multi-tool with hammer. It won’t be heavy enough to do the debris management we’re talking about here.)

Some of the very best Swiss army type tools have the usual blades and saws, including metal saws, and also include different size screw drivers plus a ratchet with multiple bits.  There are different models, and prices vary from around $120 to over $200, so it’s a good idea to shop. Start your shopping by looking at the Victorinox Spirit Plus model.

As a comparison, the Leatherman Multi-tool is one we recommend for carrying in your 3-day survival kit. It has basic blades and screwdriver, and costs $35 – $40. Both the Leatherman and the Victorinox weigh about the same amount – 5-7 oz. – so that’s not a deciding factor.

As always, pick tools appropriate for the person using them.

Good tools leverage the strength of the user, but only when they are properly used. Be sure children know how to use any tools before including them in a child’s survival kit.

OK, that’s it for now. In our next Advisory we’ll be talking about staying warm in an urban setting. Stay tuned. . . and in the meanwhile, get those multi-tools!

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team




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