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.
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!