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Survivorman: The Pros And Cons Of Being In A City During An Emergency

One of the reasons I have become interested in urban survival is I am an urban city dweller and am concerned how people would behave during a massive emergency like a flood, blackout or civil unrest.

To find out, I turned to survival expert Les Stroud, host of the hit television series Survivorman and author of Survive! The book is basically a list of tips to get you out of extremely hairy situations.

Below are two questions I put to Stroud via email on surviving in the city.

Q: What are the advantages or disadvantages of being with a crowd - or in a major city - during an emergency?

 Les Stroud: "The primary disadvantages of a crowd are that supplies become scarce and often quite quickly," said Stroud. "Panic can be contagious and there is a greater chance that there will be sick or injured to deal with," he said.

"However the advantages outweigh the situation: emergency help is likely close at hand, rescue organizations are more likely to concentrate on crowded areas, natural leaders will likely be present, more people are available to search out supplies and find reliable supply lines, long distance communication is much more accessible (and) hands are available to deal with the sick or injured."

Q: Do you believe that people in urban centers are mentally prepared (or have the supplies) to handle a severe natural disaster or sudden shut down of basic services?

Les Stroud: "Absolutely not.

"We are caught up in the day-to-day reliable living we have known for years," said Stroud. "The water turns on with a twist, the heat comes on when we set the temperature, the garbage magically disappears at the curb, there is a store on every corner with supplies that never seem to run out. We are lulled into a sense of comfort and reliable survival, so why waste the closet space on a home survival kit?

"That said, I believe the panic and the problems would be relatively short-lived because eventually when facing a severe natural disaster people will begin to use their innate will to live and will become ingenious and leaders will emerge.

"People will get fed up with not having what they are missing, or they will begin to cope with the fact that they are doing without, because, in the end, all we really need is the most simple form of water food and shelter.

After that everything else is a bonus and deep down we know that. It just might take a big disaster to remind us that we are more resilient than we thought."

So cities are not so bad and there may be hope for mankind. But still, I'm stockpiling enough food and water to last me and my loved ones for 72 hours. Next step, stocking up on board games.

Here is Les Stroud on surviving in a flood: