The Prepper Journal

Surviving an Urban Disaster: Do You Have the Essentials

The last census results in 2010 showed that a total of 80.7 percent of Americans lived in urban areas, up from 79 percent in 2000. That should tell anyone reading this article a few things about survival. If something does happen, an overwhelming majority of us will face whatever happens in an urban environment. The prepper mantra is to get rural, get out of the cities and find land far away but the reality is that is simply not practical for all of us. For the concerned prepper, living in an urban environment isn’t a death wish, but it does present you with different realities and challenges.

Richard Duarte has written a book titled: “Surviving an Urban Disaster” to address specifically those challenges that a large piece of 80% of us could end up facing. His book is the second he has written, we reviewed his other, Surviving Doomsday back in 2013 and I was fortunate enough again to sit down with Richard (virtually) and ask him some questions about his new book.

Before I get to the questions, I wanted to briefly share my thoughts on his latest book. Surviving an Urban Disaster is a concise reference guide for people who don’t want fluff, just information. He very succinctly covers many topics of survival and provides enough background and context to convey the importance of each subject. Richard starts with “What to Know” for each topic, sprinkles some Quick tips in there to highlight important items and then tells you what you need to do.

I think this is a great guide for people who are just looking for a crash course in survival and may not have the desire to sit through a longer read. This book is easily digested and offers handy reference for lists of prepping supplies that you need to focus on in an urban survival environment. I highly recommend this to people who may be curious about prepping and want to learn more, but not be overwhelmed. I think Surviving an Urban Disaster is an excellent entry into the subject as well as a ready resource that can come along if you are running out to the store.

TPJ: You have a new book titled: “Quick-Start Guide, Surviving an Urban Disaster” What’s this new book about, and who is it for?

Surviving a natural, or man-made disaster takes planning, preparation and skills. But for many people, getting prepared can be a difficult, time-consuming and even intimidating process. While there’s no shortage of useful information available, many people just don’t have the time to sort through it all; this creates a lot of confusion, and frustration. The Quick-Start Guide (QSG) offers an easy-to-understand approach to help everyday people prepare with minimum effort, and no stress. Getting prepared is actually quite simple once you focus on what really matters.

On the other hand, if you’ve already gotten started, the QSG can serve as an easy resource to ensure that you’ve covered all the survival essentials. After all, if there are deficiencies in your preparations the time to identify and correct those problems is now.

The Quick-Start Guide provides:

  • Real-world survival basics in an abbreviated, user-friendly format.
  • Survival essentials in an easy-to-understand outline.
  • Simple step-by-step guidelines to get started with minimum effort, time, and money.
  • Comprehensive lists of products and supplies to buy and store.
  • Practical information without sensationalism, fear mongering, or drama.
  • A handy reference and easy access to quick tips, ideas, and information.

In other words, much of the heavy-lifting has already been done for you. The QSG is a simple, but powerful tool to put time on your side, and to help make your efforts more productive. Using the QSG anybody can make significant progress in as little as a few hours; this represents a tremendous advantage over the old hit or miss way of doing things.

TPJ: Why did you use a quick-start format?

People are busier than ever, and many just don’t have a lot of disposable time. I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from my readers asking for simple, basic information/instructions in an easy-to-understand format. The QSG cuts to the chase by focusing on what I call the Core Survival Elements (CSE):

The QSG is packed with full-color photographs, illustrations and lots of tips, ideas, lists and suggestions. These are the fundamental building blocks for just about any disaster plan – but it’s all set-forth in a format that’s easy to read, and quick to implement. It’s the information people need, and nothing they don’t, to help them get their preparations started quickly and efficiently.

TPJ: You said in an earlier interview that it was hurricane Andrew that prompted you to begin researching prepping. Many people focus directly on what seem to be the most logical events (like the potential of a hurricane in Florida) and ignore everything else because the chance is just so low. What do you say to people who are stuck in the mindset of prepping for a single event?

I strongly encourage people not to focus on any particular potential risk, and to instead focus their attention on what I call the Core Survival Elements (CSE). These are the things that will help keep you alive no matter what disaster comes your way. The CSE are – food, water, security and self-defense, first aid and medical, knowing when to stay put (sheltering in place) and when to get out (bugging-out).  The CSE address the core needs that all human beings will have during, and after, any disaster. Focusing on particular risks is counterproductive, and worse yet, will result in a sort of tunnel vision that limits your ability to create a well-rounded survival strategy.  While there are many overlapping preparations, if you limit yourself to one particular event you will also be limiting your options, and your chances for survival.


The QSG is packed with full-color photographs, illustrations and lots of tips, ideas, lists and suggestions.

TPJ: Are you yourself part of a larger group of preppers or are you keeping your plans to yourself largely?

It’s difficult to imagine a long-term survival situation during which an individual, or a family unit, would not benefit from being part of a larger group. I’m convinced that it would be almost impossible to survive long-term without the help of others. No matter how big, strong, or knowledgeable you may be, you can’t do it all yourself. You’ll need help; but what you won’t need are freeloaders, so plan carefully. There are, pros and cons to everything. If you do reach out to neighbors, or other like-mined individuals, make sure that they will bring something to the table, and also make sure that they are making plans and preparations that mesh with yours.  It’s best to proceed slowly and in carefully planned stages. Start with some of the basics and build on those efforts. If nothing else, helping your friends and neighbors to prepare will ensure that there are fewer “unprepared” people around you in the aftermath of a disaster.

TPJ: The news is filled with prophecy, cycles ending and a confluence of dire coincidences that are pushing the sense of urgency to higher levels it seems. Do you feel an increased sense of urgency now or is it just another day?

There have always been bad times, and Mother Nature will always be wildly unpredictable . But, recently I do feel a more pronounced sense of urgency regarding man-made disasters. There are lots of things happening, here at home and around the world, that worry me. I want to be optimistic, and I’m still hopeful that humanity will somehow find a way to overcome the greed, selfishness, and ignorance that seems to be so pervasive. But until then, the very worst thing we can do is to bury our heads in the sand.  We need to acknowledge the risks/threats, and plan accordingly. We owe it to ourselves and the people we love. Sadly, way too many people have no idea what’s going on in their own communities, much less half-way around the world. Even if it’s just in a small way, I’m hopeful that my books will help everyday people better assess the risks, and prepare accordingly.

TPJ: What’s the most common mistake that people make with their preparations and planning?

Many people totally neglect the basics, they underestimate the risks, and overestimate their abilities. They just don’t realize how quickly the average person can become dehydrated; or how important basic security/self-defense is during, and after, a disaster. I always recommend that folks focus on the basics (water, food, security, sanitation/hygiene, first aid/medical, knowing when to get out, and when to stay put); and finally I stress the importance of just getting started. Many people over think their planning, (paralysis by analysis) and end up doing nothing. Preparedness is a lifestyle, and each person’s plans and preparations should constantly be evolving with their particular needs and circumstances. The QSG is a great way to get started, and stay focused on the things that really matter in a survival situation.

TPJ: Where can people get a copy of Quick-Start Guide?

The Quick-Start Guide is available on in paperback and Kindle edition. I recommend that readers get the paperback since it doesn’t depend on any external power supply; it can be tabbed, highlighted, thrown in a bug-out bag, etc. But lots of people like the electronic readers, like the Kindle. To accommodate everyone, we’ve made it as easy as possible to get both – with Amazon’s Kindle Match program, when you purchase the paperback, you can get the Kindle edition for just $0.99; you can get both editions for one low price. This give everybody what they’re looking for.

TPJ: Any parting advice for The Prepper Journal Readers?

I expect that the next 18 months will be very challenging for many folks, both here in the U.S. and abroad. There are already a number of social, economic and political factors that all seem to be converging as we approach 2016. There are also many potential flash points that can erupt without any warning. This is not intended to be a prediction of gloom and doom, just a realistic assessment of potential risks. It’s really easy to get caught up in the daily routine, and to lose track of what’s really going on around you. But, I recommend that everyone take a moment, catch their breath, and set aside some time to assess their situation and make the appropriate preparations as soon as possible. When the moment comes, regardless of the particular catalyst, you’ll either be prepared, or you won’t; it’s that simple. Don’t squander your opportunity to makes preparations for yourself and your family.

“Stay Safe, and Be Prepared”


About The Author: Richard Duarte is the author of Surviving Doomsday – A Guide for Surviving an Urban Disaster; and the new Quick-Start Guide – Surviving an Urban Disaster. Richard lectures and consults in the areas of urban survival planning and preparation, and passionately promotes self-reliance and preparedness. He also writes for a number of publications including S.W.A.T. Magazine, OffGrid Magazine, and Prepper & Shooter. When he’s not writing, speaking, teaching or thinking about urban preparedness, he’s busy running his law office in Miami, Florida. You can connect with Richard on Facebook, Twitter, and his blog

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