Urban Survival for Writers

  Urban Survival is a term for surviving in an urban environment. If you are writing a zombie novel, dystopian, or natural disaster novel, then urban survival skills are what your character needs. To help get you started, here is a basic guide.


Good to Know:

Helpful Skills:

  • Fire lighting. You’d be surprised how many city friends I have who have never lit a fire.
  • Ground-To-Air symbols. Incase the government is friendly in your novel.
  • Hand signals. In case there is an enemy(people, zombie,monster) that will be attracted to the sound of your voice. 
  • Archery. Arrows can commonly be re-used, bullets can not and are loud.
  • Marksmanship.
  • Map reading. In the age of GPS, this skill is getting rare for the young.
  • First-Aid.
  • Water Purification.
  • Hunting.

If Your Character Knows Something is Coming:

  • If water will become undrinkable, fill your tub. The water can be bottled later.
  • Know that the back toilet water(not in the bowl) is drinkable if needed.
  • Avoid large chain stores. If something has happened where help is cut off, people will likely start looting those places. Instead, think of places that have food that no one will think of; such as a daycare, community centre, school, and so on.
  • Before something happens, have a meeting spot. Let’s say an earthquake flattens your characters city. Does your character have a meeting spot everyone he/she loves knows so that they don’t waste valuable time trying to gather them?
  • Have bug-out bag. These bags are what you grab while running out the door should any emergency happen.

Edible Plantlife:

In an urban environment, weeds are common. However, did you know many common weeds are edible? If your character is in a situation where no one has likely sprayed down the greenery with herbicides, then plant life could make for a valuable vitamin and mineral source in a pinch. Here are three city weeds I commonly see.

  • Dandelion: The whole plant is edible. This plant is know to many as “natures multivitamin.”
  • Clover: Sickness Relief. Good for sore throats, coughs, upset stomach. Can also be used for skin ailments, and eaten as food.
  • Yarrow: Stopping Bleeding. Yarrow can save your life. If put onto a wound, it will help slow the bleeding and could stop you from bleeding out.
  • Fireweed: Edible, but bitter and they get worse as the plant ages. Boil twice to help cut down on the bitter taste. Eat like spinach.

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