May 28, 2024

(Psst: The FTC wants me to remind you that this website contains affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase from a link you click on, I might receive a small commission. This does not increase the price you’ll pay for that item nor does it decrease the awesomeness of the item. ~ Daisy)

By the author of Street Survivalism: A Practical Training Guide To Life In The City and The Ultimate Survival Gear Handbook

Look around: it’s not 2019 anymore. Even though, on the surface, things may seem relatively normal, the entire zeitgeist has changed drastically already. Amidst threats of nuclear war, collapsing banks, and other potential SHTFs, the number of people losing it is growing exponentially out there. 

That’s not just from the rapid decline in the standard of living but also from all the fast-paced transformations taking place globally. People can cope fine with change but struggle with uncertainty. When the capacity to absorb and adapt is overwhelmed, fear, confusion, hopelessness, and despair sets in. 

Humans – individuals and the collective – deal with those feelings differently. The majority will just bite the bullet and march on. Some will get depressed or try to hide from the world, while others will give up in one way or another. But for many, addiction, insanity, and violence is the only possible response, the last resort. They blow a gasket and start lashing out like rats in a cage. 

“Do I now have to stay alert at all times when out of home?”

I got asked that question by a person who, only three weeks before, had been attacked by a 13-year-old K9* addict when leaving the subway station. The kid didn’t steal anything, just smacked her in the head and walked away babbling disconnect insults in a frenetic episode.

The short answer: yes, if you want to stay alive and well in 2023 and beyond, you better. 

( * ) K9 a.k.a. K2, K4 and spice, is a highly addictive, extremely powerful and poisonous synthetic drug that acts on the same body’s receptors of marijuana’s active principle THC. It turns people into zombies in 30 seconds.

Those still wondering about these things must quickly rethink their view of reality. 

It’s already happening, and those failing to acknowledge the situation are setting themselves up for disaster.

“Random murders and police killings, once exceedingly rare, now becoming regular part of Canadian crime landscape” [SOURCE]

Recently I wrote an article about defensive driving for Mind4Survival, Brian Duff’s prepping and survival website and TOP partner. The focus wasn’t on “regular” defensive driving but rather on the kind that considers crime, violence, and social unrest more than the typical traffic factors. 

In yet another piece on M4S, I present my view of a violent future due to the looming crisis, how I see it unfolding, and how to prepare for it. Now more than ever, we must ready up for social unrest exploding, especially in the urban environment where friction is a constant and density is much more significant. 

Much as we try, most of us can’t live forever in a bubble. That’s hard even for the one-percenters at the top. At one point, we have to come out. Being proactive to remain safe while circulating in the streets, buildings, and public transportation is the way forward.

When everyone is either a potential attacker or a potential victim

“Teenager Gabriel Magalhães, 16, was stabbed and killed at a subway station in Toronto last weekend. The local press reported that the attack was random, without any kind of motivation. The suspect of committing the crime is the homeless Jordan O’Brien-Tobin, 22 years old. After carrying out the aggression, he fled.” [SOURCE]

And in New York…

People shoved in front of trains. Good Samaritans stabbed. Sucker punches to the head. A samurai Sword.

Random attacks — and homicides — in New York City’s transit system have New Yorkers on edge in recent weeks, despite assurances from the mayor and governor that subways are safe.

More unprovoked attacks in the days since a new safety initiative rolled out only serve to reinforce concerns among many commuters — and the latest ones underscore the point.

Cops added another random subway shove Thursday to the ongoing list. A straphanger had been standing on the northbound 6 train platform at the Lexington Avenue and East 77th Street station on Manhattan’s Upper East Side around 8:40 p.m. Monday when another man pushed him onto the tracks for no apparent reason at all, they say. (SOURCE)

In the case of political, racial, religious, gender, gang, or even “regular” (for-profit) crime, there’s always some identifiable logic driving the motivation. One aspect of these violent acts is randomness, and another is being all about the attacker.

I’m talking about free, random violent attacks against individuals perpetrated by maladjusted people. It’s someone getting pushed into subway tracks, bashed in the streets (or at home), assaulted in stores or other public places, and even shot or stabbed in clubs or schools. 

It’s important to note that this isn’t just a big city problem. Murder rates are skyrocketing in rural America.

How do you stay safe from something so random?

Realize that, to become a victim of “crisis madness”, all it takes is being in the wrong place, at the wrong time, or near the wrong people. These are the things we must pay attention to, basically.

This kind of urban violence has a common root, no wonder it’s growing in lockstep, particularly in the west. And it’s not just widespread mental breakdown driving it: drug and alcohol abuse – particularly opioids like fentanyl, heroin, tranq (Xylazine), and others – has reached epidemic levels. This insanity vortex will get much worse shortly I’m afraid, so better prepare.

1.) Plan your itinerary.

Just as with driving, planning our itinerary, at least to some degree, is a way to increase safety when walking through town. Avoiding high-crime spots, drug consumption zones, and streets and avenues with large homeless encampments is critical.  

Granted, these are well-known areas avoided by average citizens in most towns. But other less suspect streets, especially around these critical regions, can be even more dangerous. That’s usually where addicts and other maladjusted wanders to try and score money for drugs, thus they’re freaking out from abstinence and become more unstable and violent.

Always travel through well-lit, well-conserved, clear, and busy places. Commerce streets and avenues, with restaurants and other services, tend to have more people circulating and policing. Sometimes, planning is just finding some company, or choosing the appropriate times: some places are safe(r) during the day but not at night (and vice-versa).

2.) Be familiar with the streets.

Cities are changing fast, and even your district or neighborhood can become drastically different in a matter of months or even weeks. If you’re inside all the time or just driving from one parking place to another, you may not notice those changes much.

Often I get people telling me they feel safer or prepared just from reading my street survival training book or any other book, article, or video on situational awareness or self-defense. I’ll be the first to admit there’s value in reading and watching videos, but also to say that there’s no way to become familiar with the streets without going out and circulating. 

We gain street smartness and actual capability by turning knowledge into action, by practicing reading people and situations in real life, which is vastly different than Hollywood movies.

I give plenty of tips and strategies in my book, but you must go out. Walk or bike to places (or randomly), take public transportation, interact with neighbors, workers and other people. It’s spring in the north, the best season for that, and getting some sun and fresh air is a bonus.

3.) Double your awareness around people.

It’s not just drug addicts moving like zombies dressed in drapery we must be wary of. No question, if you’re around someone clearly under the influence of chemicals or just having an episode, you can be a victim. 

However, always remain open to the possibility of being attacked by almost everyone. As argued, pretty much anyone can be unstable or mentally deranged in this day and age. Most people will frequently give clues about their intentions through manners, looks, or posture, so practice “reading” people to get those signals more efficiently.

But sometimes they don’t. What to do, then? Avoid everyone? That’s both impractical, ineffective, and unnecessary. Besides increasing situational awareness, we must actively avoid putting ourselves in a position that may facilitate an attack, or worsen its consequences. It’s like chess: always think a few steps ahead, defensively, strategically, and tactically. And always trust your instincts.

Never let strangers invade your personal space, nor allow anyone to come at less than an arm’s distance (especially if there’s reason to avoid it). This can depend on the settings, so be rational and reasonable, particularly in crowded places. Either way, these tend to be safer thanks to the number of people and spatial limitations.

4.) Double your awareness in some places.

No doubt it sucks to stay alert when we are having a good time by ourselves or with someone or taking public transportation to return home after a hard day. Until recently, that was necessary only in dangerous countries or places, but it’s now a sensible recommendation anywhere. 

Overall, the idea is to think ahead and be extra cautious in some places. For instance, don’t stand daydreaming idly near the border of train platforms and bus stops, especially as they’re approaching. 

  • In the same way, avoid crossing a suspect or agitated (tripping) person on the curbside of a busy street or avenue so as not to be bumped or pushed into the roadway. 
  • Don’t stop by or walk too close to boarded-up buildings and storefronts, abandoned parkways, and other places where someone could hit you by surprise or pull you in suddenly.
  • If you are walking by yourself through a tunnel, over or under a bridge, a footwalk, or another enclosed passway, take a few seconds to inspect both accesses and also the route for suspects, obstructions, or other hazards before crossing. 
  • Is there light? Do you see trash, needles, nests of food, and clothing? Is that bunch of stuff just debris, or does it has the aspect of something intentionally arranged to slow down, box, or block pedestrians?
  • If in doubt, change course, ask for help, or wait for a company to make the cross. That’s even more important for women and children, but in fact, a valid strategy for anyone to go through any suspect area.
  • If taking a sidewalk table outside a bar or restaurant, try to sit with your back to the building or other protected spot, if possible, one that allows you to have a clear 180° view of the surroundings.  
  • Avoid eye contact at first so as not to draw suspect or unwanted people (which in the streets is pretty much anyone). Instead, use peripheral vision to stay alert and prepared.

If someone comes at you all the same, look them in the eyes and assert yourself firmly. 

5.) Stay calm and keep your wits.

When the world goes crazy, we must remain even calmer than usual. It’s easy to stay zen alone at home, relaxing on a beach, or backpacking in the wilderness. The real challenge is remaining calm in the eye of the hurricane or when we’re being abused, disrespected, shouted at, cursed, or worse. 

Besides the risk of getting attacked by a drug addict or crazy person, we can get involved in other dangerous events differently. For instance, road rage episodes, fights, and brawls (a guy here lost his hand by trying to intervene in a conflict between a man and his wife). 

I could go on, but I’m sure you got the point. Keep your cool, detach from the situation, count to ten, or use any technique you prefer to keep your ego in check. Don’t take the bait, don’t get offended, and don’t be sucked into arguments or other situations. Take a distance and report to an authority if necessary. 

Common sense isn’t always that common.

These tips may sound like common sense, but judging by the number of people who downplay the risks, are oblivious to these factors, or just plain arrogant (and thus get attacked more often) tells me it’s not. 

People need to start thinking about how they’ll navigate increasingly dangerous urban environments. And it’s not just crime, but random aggressiveness and free violence (and also social unrest in the form of strikes, protests, etc.). One can opt to live in a bubble, but that has a price, too.

There are other situations, places, and people to talk about. It’s impossible to cover everything in one article, I tried to offer a few basic examples and tips and bring attention to the issue. Situational awareness, street smartness, and other related skills will become increasingly important for security and self-preservation, so keep working on those. 

What about you?

Have you seen an uptick in violence in your area? In drug addiction and correlating behavior? Is it random? If so, what are you doing to remain safe and to keep your family safe? What advice would you give to a person who attends college or work in a risky area to help them stay safe during their commute?

Let’s discuss it in the comments section.

About Fabian

Fabian Ommar is a 50-year-old middle-class worker living in São Paulo, Brazil. Far from being the super-tactical or highly trained military survivor type, he is the average joe who since his youth has been involved with self-reliance and outdoor activities and the practical side of balancing life between a big city and rural/wilderness settings. Since the 2008 world economic crisis, he has been training and helping others in his area to become better prepared for the “constant, slow-burning SHTF” of living in a 3rd world country.

Fabian’s ebook, Street Survivalism: A Practical Training Guide To Life In The City , is a practical training method for common city dwellers based on the lifestyle of the homeless (real-life survivors) to be more psychologically, mentally, and physically prepared to deal with the harsh reality of the streets during normal or difficult times. He’s also the author of The Ultimate Survival Gear Handbook.

You can follow Fabian on Instagram @stoicsurvivor