Oh boy, do we have a treat for you today (pun absolutely intended)! Now, I don’t mean to be the bearer of bad news or the whisperer of doom, but let’s face it, there may come a time when disaster strikes and you find yourself in an urban environment with nothing to eat or drink. Fear not, intrepid reader! Whether you’re dodging a tornado, riding out an earthquake, or simply running low on your stash of take-out menus, we’ve got you covered with this article on finding food and water in urban areas during a disaster.
And no, we’re not going to suggest you dine on your designer sneakers or drink the water from your toilet tank (although technically, you could if you were in a real bind). Instead, we’re going to deep-dive into some serious survival skills that may come in handy during an urban disaster.
Urban Foraging and Finding Edible Plants in the City
You might think the concrete jungle is barren of anything edible, but with a little knowledge and a keen eye, you can turn the urban landscape into a veritable smorgasbord. You’d be surprised at the number of edible plants lurking in the corners of city parks, alleyways, and even on the sidewalks.
“But how will I distinguish a tasty tidbit from a toxic terror?” you ask. It’s easier than you think, and there are several resources to help you identify edible plants. Many edible plants have distinct characteristics such as the “Dandelion,” says Dr. Jennifer Ackerfield, author of Flora of Colorado. “Dandelion greens can be used in salads or sautéed as a side dish, and are a surprisingly good source of vitamins A, C, and K.” Just make sure you’re not pulling up anything that’s been sprayed with pesticides.
Safe Food Storage and Preservation Techniques
If you’ve hit the urban foraging jackpot or stumbled upon a deserted grocery store, you’ll need to store your food safely and possibly preserve it for the future. There are a few simple techniques you can use.
First off, get yourself a trusty cooler or any insulated container. Fill it with ice (or snow, in colder climates), and voila, you’ve got yourself a makeshift refrigerator.
Now, let’s talk about preserving food. Our ancestors were experts at this. Think like a pioneer and sun dry, salt, or smoke your food. “Dehydration is one of the oldest and most effective means of food preservation,” notes survival expert Tim MacWelch. You might not have fancy dehydrators at hand, but that shouldn’t stop you. You can dry fruits and veggies in the sun, and for meat, a smoky fire can get the job done.
Locating Clean Water Sources in Urban Environments
Here’s a survival nugget for you: a person can live for weeks without food, but only a few days without water. So, finding a clean water source is paramount.
Scouting out natural sources like rivers and ponds is a good start. Rainwater collected in clean containers is another option. And don’t forget about man-made sources! Fire hydrants, water towers, and even water heaters can serve as lifesavers in a pinch.
Purifying and Filtering Water for Consumption
Locating water is just the first step. Making sure it’s safe to drink is the real trick. One of the simplest ways to purify water is by boiling it for at least one minute.
But what if you can’t build a fire? Never fear, the sun is here! Solar disinfection (also known as SODIS) is a method where clear plastic bottles are filled with water and exposed to the sun for 6 hours. The UV radiation kills most of the bad stuff.
And, if you’re really in a bind, remember this quote from survival expert Cody Lundin, “Water from a toilet tank (not the bowl) is usually safe to drink.”
As we wrap up our urban survival smorgasbord, remember this: survival is about adaptability and resourcefulness. The urban jungle may not be teeming with fruit trees or bubbling springs, but with a little knowledge and ingenuity, it can provide sustenance in a disaster.
So, the next time you’re out and about in the city, look around. That dandelion sprouting through the crack in the sidewalk isn’t a weed, it’s a potential salad. And that rainwater running off the roof isn’t a nuisance, it’s a lifesaver.
Stay safe, stay resourceful, and remember, your designer sneakers might look tasty, but they’re probably not very nutritious. Happy urban foraging, folks!