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Urban doomsday preppers not your stereotypical paranoid white survivalists

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If you were to picture a doomsday prepper living in New York City, how would you describe them? If you're thinking bunker-building isolationists with conservative or anti-government sentiments, a religious end-times outlook, a secret arsenal of weaponry, and a massive cache of food -- well, you would be incorrect. Although those are the stereotypical extremists often seen as doomsday preppers, their like depicted on the National Geographic show of the same name, those that would survive a doomsday scenario in an urban setting -- urban preppers -- are often quite the opposite of their rural counterparts, LiveScience reported Aug. 25.

According to Queens College sociologist Anna Maria Bounds, the typical urban prepper isn't a gun-toting conservative at all. In fact, most urban preppers don't own guns. Their philosophies range from ultra-conservative to ultra-liberal. There are no bunkers, weapons stashes, or food storage troves. In reality, the typical urban doomsday prepper is likely to have a simple "bug out" bag (a satchel that contains items for surviving) and a plan of escape.

Most revealing of all, according to Bounds, who spoke before the 109th annual American Sociological Association on Aug. 18, is that instead of being caucasian, the typical urban prepper would be a person of color. They tend to be more practical, their contingency plans more disaster-oriented, and less likely to indulge in conspiracy theories and end-times scenarios.

Getting out of a densely populated city would be of utmost importance should something catastrophic take place that not only would knock out power throughout the city but also basically strand the urban population, leaving city dwellers to fend for themselves after a few days. Bounds, who became interested in the survivalist lifestyle after personally experiencing the devastating impact of September 11, 2001, and Hurricane Sandy (2012), noticed that urban preppers tend to be survivors of other catastrophes, such as the aforementioned and Hurricane Katrina (2005).

In the case of New York's Manhattan island, navigating or escaping the area becomes even more difficult if you're trapped, say, during a workday, when the population rises to over 3.1 million people and there are only nine bridges and four tunnels connecting you to the mainland. Road congestion could bring traffic to a standstill. Some urban preppers plan for such an occasion with inflatable kayaks, planning to depart by water if necessary.

In one of the episodes of "Doomsday Preppers," the show, which was entitled "Escape From New York" (an homage to the classic futurist film "Escape From New York" starring Kurt Russell), followed three New York preppers and their plans for surviving doomsday, including various methods of leaving New York City. One of the preppers planned to travel via kayak.

So what makes a good plan for exiting the city in case of a disaster? Bounds says that a good escape route is a necessity and should be well thought-out ahead of time. An escape vehicle, such as a car, should be always be kept in a state of preparedness (such as keeping the gas tank full). A "bug out" bag, a backpack filled with survival necessities like food, a flashlight, camping gear, water filtration systems, should be constructed, its weight kept at a comfortable level. Practicing "bugging out" (that is, leaving at a second's notice due to an emergency situation) is commonly done by preppers to acclimate themselves to carrying "bug out" bags, staying physically and mentally prepared, and discovering what works best to remain self-sufficient.

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