The same goes for survival situations. It doesn't matter whether it takes place a hundred miles back in the wilderness or in downtown metropolis, it's all the same. When the chips are down, nothing trumps personal preparedness. If you know what to do and either have the right equipment with you or know how to improvise, you'll probably make it out alive. If you fail those criteria, you're going to have to rely on luck.
If you're lucky, someone will stumble across your path and rescue you. It does happen. I've reported before on people lost or stranded who were saved because a hunter or hiker accidentally found the hapless victims. But I wouldn't count on it. It's a long shot to expect a stranger to find you in the vastness of the wilderness.
In an urban survival situation, where masses of people are in trouble all at the same time, you can't expect others to sacrifice their own families or themselves to come to your aid. Thankfully, there are folks who will do that, but by allowing yourself to be a victim you place your rescuers at risk. If you do that because you have neglected to prepare to handle emergencies yourself, then shame on you. You are part of the problem when you could easily have been part of the solution.
Personal preparation encompasses every aspect of life, including where you choose to live. If you choose to live in a little apartment in downtown metropolis, surrounded by mega-millions of unprepared people, you might have very little ability to grow your own food, or a place to store an emergency supply of necessities. I'm not condemning anyone who lives like that, but it's a choice, whether or not you're willing to admit it. If you think you're "stuck" in those conditions because that's where your job is, then you're willing to allow your job to make the decision for you. It takes guts to break out of the herd, but it can be done.
If you really are concerned about emergency preparedness, start analyzing your life. Ask yourself:
- If the global economy suddenly went in the tank and money had absolutely no value, what would I do?
- If there was a total loss of public services — transportation, communication, food supply, water supply, utilities, police, fire and medical services — what would I do?
- If a massive ice storm paralyzed my city for a month, and there was no electricity because all the power lines were down, what would I do?
- If I became hopelessly lost while hiking, a storm was blowing in and night was coming on, what would I do?
- If there was a biological attack by terrorists against my city, what would I do?
- If the municipal water supply became contaminated and warnings were issued about not using the water, what would I do?
- If a virulent pandemic spread across the country and I was quarantined for 6 months to my house, with no possibility to go outside, what would I do?
- If my car slid off a remote snow-covered road while I was miles back in the forested mountains hunting for a Christmas tree, what would I do?
- If a cougar or bear wandered into my fishing camp, what would I do?
- If my family members were spread all over town the day a massive earthquake shattered everything, what would I do?
Be thoughtful about every different scenario you can come up with. Analyze your situation, your experience level, your equipment, your skills. Start bolstering where you need to. Make the hard decisions about where you live.
Do you have everything you need to go on living for an extended period of time (at least 6 months) without having to depend on stores or restaurants or public services to keep you alive?
If you expect the government or some relief agency to save you from disaster, you're not really fit for survival. I'm not saying you deserve to die, but I wouldn't want you on my team if you're not willing to take personal responsibility for your own welfare.
Don't wait until the stink flies toward you at a hundred miles an hour before looking for the umbrella.