Most of us work in an office every day, and there’s not much we can do about it. In this post we will discuss ways to maintain a basic level of preparedness while working in an office setting in the event of an urban disaster.
Building an Urban EDC Kit
The best way to be prepared for most people is going to be to build an Urban EDC Kit, sometimes called an Urban Survival Kit (USK). The reason we won’t focus as much on the survival aspect of the kit is because in your vehicle you should have a 72 hour survival kit, which is of course built to keep you alive for a minimum of 72 hours. If a disaster were to strike while you are at the office, odds are pretty high that you will at least be able to stop by your vehicle if you need to, even if you can’t get in and drive home.
Instead, this kit is made up of the things that you should have either on your person, or close by in your office (or cubical) every day. This kit should have the essentials for YOUR urban environment in case you ever need to rely on it in an emergency. This kit will allow you get out (either to get home, get to your vehicle, get out of the city, etc) on foot in the event of an emergency. Example emergency situations would be:
- Terrorist attack (9/11, Oklahoma City bombing, etc)
- Natural disaster (earthquake, fire, powerful storm, etc)
- Power grid failure (northeast blackout of 2003)
- Riots (Occupy movement, LA riots in the 90’s, etc)
Any one of these situations may force you to have to bug out on foot.
Choosing a Bag
Choosing the right bag is going to depend a lot on you. There isn’t one right choice for everyone, and there aren’t a lot of wrong choices. Find something that fits your body and lifestyle. What follows is a general recommendation that will work for most people.
For most people, a backpack is going to make the most sense. The reasoning behind a backpack is simple: if you’re stuck have to “bug out” with nothing but what you can carry, a backpack is going to be (for most people) the best and most versatile choice. You will want to choose a strong, lightweight backpack that can carry 30-40 lbs, and has at least 2,000 cubic inches in volume. A good example is the Osprey Manta. If you have to carry a laptop, a backpack is still a good choice, just choose one that has a dedicated laptop pocket.
Another excellent choice would be a large messenger bag. The downside is that with one strap, the weight isn’t distributed over the shoulders and back as well as with a backpack, which for a lot of people would be a problem if you were forced to carry it long distances in an emergency.
Whatever bag you choose, make sure it’s “low key”. You do NOT want to stand out, especially in an urban emergency. Having a tacticool military style urban assault backpack is awesome, until it makes you stick out in an emergency and thus making you a target.
This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive list, but rather a good starting point to get you thinking about what you should include in your kit. Creating an EDC Kit/Urban Survival Kit should be very personal, and it’s something that everyone should do for themselves. Again, this isn’t meant to replace your 72 hour kit, but rather to be a scaled down version of that kit with just the bare essentials.
Size and Weight Constraints
Because you are going to be limited by how much you can carry with you on a day to day basis, the contents of your bag are going to vary with your situation. In general, you are going to want to focus on small, lightweight items that can if possible serve more than one purpose.
This is perhaps the most important, and most often overlooked part of any emergency kit. For food, focus on lightweight food items like protein bars or freeze dried food items. These can pack a lot of calories into a very small space. How much food you include is up to you, I carry at least 2,000 calories.
Good examples are Clif Bars and Mountain House products.
Water is more difficult, simply because water is heavy. You should at least have a water bottle full of water in your pack. But the main part of your water strategy should be filtration and/or purification capabilities. In an urban environment, you will most likely be able to find clean water even in an emergency, but you shouldn’t count on this. Instead make sure you have a good water bottle, and way to filter and/or purify water if you need to. A good option would be the Berkey water bottle – you can keep it full, and it has a built in filter in case you need that capability.
Unfortunately, security is going to be very important in an urban emergency. Your first line of defense is going to be to blend in with your environment (this is where the low key backpack comes into play) and to avoid the crowds. In addition, you’re going to want at least some level of protection with you as well. Choose what is right for you and your situation, obeying all laws. Being prepared is great, but you don’t want to get hauled off to jail for violating a state gun law for example.
It’s almost always legal to carry pepper spray, so even if you can’t carry a gun, you can have something. And even if you do have a gun, spraying an assailant with pepper spray and running away is almost always a better choice than shooting them. I recommend getting a key ring unit like this Cold Steel Inferno.
As long as it’s legal and allowed where you work, you should at minimum have an EDC folding knife on you at all times. For the office, choose a knife that buries deeply and discreetly into your pocket. There are many great choices, the key is to have something on you. In addition, if possible and legal, you should have a medium duty fixed blade knife in your bag.
Check out our knife reviews for examples.
This decision can be tough. Remember that this is a kit that you are going to bring with you into your office, where most of the time firearms are going to be prohibited. Again, do what is right for you and your situation. Maybe you have a concealed carry permit, and it’s legal for you to have a gun, but it’s against company policy. Well getting fired is of course better than getting thrown in jail, but this is a judgment call that you have to make.
Whatever your situation is, if you do choose to include a gun in your kit, most people will want to choose a lightweight gun. I recommend that you also include a small box of ammunition for whatever gun you choose, and if it’s an auto pistol, include at least one extra magazine.
My personal choice is to carry the Kahr CM9 with a box of ammunition and an extra magazine. If the emergency situation allows for it, I will stop by my truck where I have additional weapons with my 72 hour kit that we will cover in future posts.
A good flashlight should be part of your EDC kit, whether on your person, or at the very least, in your EDC bag.
I personally choose flashlights that use either AA or AAA batteries, as these batteries are the easiest to find (and cheapest). I also recommend that you use the Lithium AAA or Lithium AA batteries, as they have a longer shelf life, last longer, are much lighter than Alkaline batteries, and work at greater temperature extremes. Keep fresh batteries in your flashlight, and at least one set of spare batteries in your EDC bag.
Part 1 Conclusion
That’s it for part 1. In part 2 we will finish up the basic contents of our Urban EDC Kit.