16 Biggest Dangers of Surviving a Disaster in The City


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Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

Disasters can happen anywhere at any time. But when they happen in urban areas, the consequences can be especially severe. That’s because cities are densely populated with many tall buildings and infrastructure that can collapse or be damaged in a disaster. 

Because so many people live and work in close proximity to one another, the spread of disease can be more rapid. And since few people in cities grow or stockpile food, it doesn’t take long before they fight each other for supplies.

In this blog post, we’ll take a look at some of the biggest dangers of surviving a disaster in the city. We’ll also offer some tips on what you can do to stay safe if you find yourself in the midst of an urban disaster.

While no one likes to think about being caught in a disaster, it’s important to be prepared for the worst. For city dwellers, surviving a natural or man-made disaster can present a unique set of challenges. From navigating evacuated streets to finding clean water and shelter, here are some of the biggest dangers of surviving a disaster in the city.

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1. Dust or Ash in the Air

One of the most overlooked dangers of surviving a disaster in the city is the potential for dust or ash in the air. This can be a problem even in small disasters, like fires, but it is magnified in larger disasters, like hurricanes or earthquakes. The dust and ash can cause respiratory problems, and even blindness if it is inhaled in large enough quantities. 

It is important to have a plan to deal with this threat, whether it is staying indoors with the windows and doors sealed, or having a filter mask to wear when outside. In either case, it is vital to be aware of the danger and take steps to protect yourself and your family.

2. Downed Power Lines

When a natural disaster strikes a city, it can cause widespread destruction. One of the biggest dangers in these situations is downed power lines. Not only do they pose a serious electrocution risk, but they can also start fires.

In addition, downed power lines can block roads and prevent emergency vehicles from reaching people who need help. This is why it’s so important to be aware of where power lines are located and to stay clear of them if a disaster strikes.

3. Collapsing Buildings

One of the biggest dangers of surviving a disaster in the city is the risk of being crushed by a collapsing building. Tall buildings are particularly vulnerable to high winds and earthquakes, so it’s important to know where the safest places are in your building (e.g., away from windows and outside walls).

If you’re caught in a collapsing building, try to protect yourself by crouching under a sturdy piece of furniture or covering your head and neck with your hands.

Collapsed Building - Hurricane IanPin

4. Fires

Fires can spread quickly through densely populated urban areas, especially if there are high winds. If you’re caught in a fire, try to stay low to the ground where the air is cooler and less likely to be filled with smoke.

If possible, cover your mouth and nose with a wet cloth to help filter out smoke particles. And always remember to stop, drop, and roll if your clothes catch on fire. If you don’t already, get some fire extinguishers.

5. Flooding

Flooding is another common danger in urban areas during disasters such as hurricanes or tropical storms. If possible, try to move to higher ground before flood waters start to rise. And never try to cross a flooded road.

Here is some more advice on how to survive a flood.

6. Contaminated Water

After a major disaster, the city’s water supply will likely be contaminated with toxins and bacteria. This can lead to serious illness and even death. The best way to avoid this danger is to have a plan in place before a disaster strikes. Make sure you know where to find safe water, and have a way to purify it

7. Social Unrest

In the aftermath of a major disaster, city streets can quickly become lawless places, as people loot stores for food and supplies. Gangs can take advantage of the chaos to settle old scores, and violence can erupt over scarce resources. 

In addition, survivors may be forced to contend with widespread power outages, water shortages, and other forms of infrastructure failure. As a result, it is essential for city dwellers to have a well-planned emergency strategy that includes a safe place to go in the event of social unrest.

8. Impassable Roadways

One of the biggest dangers of surviving a disaster in the city is the risk of being caught in gridlock. With roads and highways quickly becoming congested with fleeing residents, it can be difficult to evacuate swiftly.

In addition, being stuck in traffic leaves you vulnerable to looters and other criminals who may take advantage of the situation.

9. Looters

The nightmarish specter of looting is one of the most feared outcomes of a major disaster. In the chaos and confusion that follows a natural disaster or other emergency, looters take advantage of the situation, breaking into homes and businesses and stealing whatever they can find.

This can quickly lead to a spiral of violence, as people attempt to protect their property from marauding bands of thieves. 

Even in the best-case scenario, looters can cause widespread damage and create a tremendous amount of chaos. In the worst-case scenario, they can contribute to the further breakdown of law and order, making an already difficult situation even worse. 

For these reasons, it is important to be aware of the dangers of looters and take steps to protect yourself and your property in the event of a major disaster. That may involve installing extra security systems or having a few weapons on hand to protect yourself.

10. Gangs of Criminals 

Gangs of criminals can quickly take over neighborhoods, making it difficult for law-abiding citizens to find food and other resources. They can also be a danger to public safety, as they often resort to violence in order to get what they want. 

As a result, it is important to be aware of the dangers of gangs when planning for a disaster. If possible, try to evacuate to a safe area outside of the city. If you must stay in the city, be sure to stock up on supplies and fortify your home as much as possible. 

11. Stray or Hungry Dogs 

Stray or hungry dogs can pose a serious threat to people who are trying to survive a disaster in the city. 

Dogs can become aggressive when they are hungry, and they may attack people who are trying to find food or shelter. In addition, dogs can carry diseases that can be passed on to humans, including rabies. 

As a result, it is important for people who are trying to survive a disaster in the city to be aware of the danger posed by stray or hungry dogs. There are several steps that people can take to avoid being attacked by a dog, including avoiding areas where dogs are known to congregate, keeping food away from them, and defending themselves with weapons if necessary.

12. Lack of Shelter

One of the biggest dangers of surviving a disaster in the city is lack of shelter. With so much concrete and asphalt, there are few places to take refuge from the elements. 

And in a densely populated city, finding an empty building to shelter in is often not an option. This leaves survivors exposed to extreme weather conditions, which can rapidly lead to dehydration and hypothermia. 

In addition, being forced to sleep outdoors also makes survivors more vulnerable to attack from both other people and wildlife. While it is always important to be prepared for any eventuality, it is especially important to have a plan for shelter if you find yourself caught in a disaster in the city.

Think you can skip this one because you have a home or apartment right in the city? Think again. While this will likely serve as your primary source of shelter in a disaster, remember that it may be difficult to get back home if you’re away when the SHTF. Have a backup plan (and a back-up to that back-up plan) in place just in case.

13. Sewage

When water and electricity are lost, sewage can quickly back up, leading to dangerous conditions. Contaminated water can lead to outbreaks of disease, and standing sewage can attract pests like rats and mosquitoes. 

In addition, the odor of sewage can be overwhelming, making it difficult to stay in an affected area. To avoid these dangers, it is important to have a plan for dealing with sewage in the event of a disaster. 

This may include having a supply of clean water on hand, as well as disinfectants and personal protective equipment. It is also important to know how to properly dispose of sewage without contaminating groundwater or causing an environmental hazard. 

Dirty Sewage Pouring From PipePin

14. Lack of Food

Of all the dangers that come with surviving a disaster in the city, one of the most underrated is lack of food. When stores are closed and power is out, it can be hard to find anything to eat. And even if you do have some food stored away, it probably won’t last very long. 

This is why it’s so important to have a plan for finding food in the event of a disaster. Even better is to have a stockpile ready to go!

15. Injury

One of the biggest dangers of surviving a disaster in the city is injury. From being trapped under debris to being struck by flying objects, there are many ways that people can be injured during a disaster. This is why it is so important for city dwellers to have a comprehensive plan for dealing with emergencies. 

16. Disease

Close quarters and poor sanitation can lead to the rapid spread of disease during disasters such as earthquakes or hurricanes when water supplies are disrupted. 

To protect yourself from disease-causing bacteria and viruses, practice good hygiene by washing your hands often with soap and clean water. And if safe water isn’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. You should also avoid contact with floodwater, which may be contaminated with sewage or chemical pollutants.

Final Thoughts

Surviving a disaster is never easy—but it can be especially difficult in an urban area where there are many potential hazards lurking around every corner. From collapsed buildings and raging fires to flooding and disease-filled water supplies, there are many dangers you need to be aware of if you find yourself caught in the middle of an urban disaster. 

But by being prepared ahead of time and knowing what steps to take if disaster strikes, you can increase your chances of making it through unscathed.

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