You’re not excluded from prepping just because you live in an apartment.
In fact, you should be dedicating a good amount of space to preparing for the worst: food, supplies, and bug out gear just in case you have to flee from your apartment.
Being an apartment prepper comes out of necessity, because you don’t have a standalone home anywhere to protect, so you have to barricade yourself in and keep your options open. It can be done, but it definitely has a unique set of circumstances attached to it.
There’s no a lot of talk about how apartment folk are going to pull through major disasters, but we’re going to give you the rundown right now.
What Can You Do to Prep Your Apartment?
Prepping your apartment for an incoming disaster is important. You’re in a more susceptible area, but if you’re smart, you can use the concrete jungle to your advantage.
We’re going to talk about making yourself appear like the least viable target for looters, burglars, and potential assailants while hunkering down.
Keep in mind that when you prep your apartment, you’re still in a somewhat compromised position. You don’t have the luxury of being in a home in a remote location; leaving your apartment behind when SHTF means you’re not expecting any of your things to be there when you come back.
We’re going to make sure you have all the know-how to prevent that from happening, and take care of yourself if it’s unavoidable.
Prepping meals: freeze dried ratios, pickled food, anything you can store in an apartment pantry.
Most apartments are small and strapped for space, so while it’s normally recommended to build your own supply of emergency food, you can also benefit from thirty-day food storage pails. They last for years, and since space is an issue they could sit in a corner without being an inconvenience.
Prepare enough food to sustain yourself for three months. If you pickle, can, and dehydrate your own food, you can have some diversity without having to use those emergency pails.
Ideally, you’ll have at least one week worth of food in a bug out bag ready-to-go in the event that you have to flee your apartment.
Normally, we recommend 72 hours worth of food for a bug out bag, but being in the city or densely populated areas complicates things. It may be a few extra days until you reach an area where you can hunt, set up camp, and begin surviving in the wild.
When considering what tools you’ll need, keep in mind that the initial goal is to hunker down in the apartment, but the contingency plan is to bug out when necessary. You want to have tools for both situations. Some versatile tools you can use for both instances would be:
- Multitool: Knife, screwdriver, fire starter, and more tools all concealed in an easy-to-carry fashion.
- Paracord: Usually in the form of a bracelet or a backpack add-on. A must-have for hunkering down and bugging out.
- Self-Defense Weapon: In an SHTF situation, you’re not likely to have police berating you about the tool that you have. Stick to legal knives, tactical flashlights, and tactical pens for this.
- Pry Tool: This helps you with leverage in and around your apartment. Excellent to get into locked areas such as supermarkets if things really go south and you need food.
- Water Filtration Device: Even if you still have water through the tap, the treatment plants may not be manned. Filter your own water.
This is just a basic example of some of the tools you’ll need. Always ask yourself, “How can I use this in my apartment and in the wild?”
Bug Out Bag
Your bug out bag is your one-way ticket out of your apartment. This needs to be completely ready to go before disaster even strikes, and must include essential survival items, food, water, and tools to help you survive off the grid until things settle down.
We have a guide on buying the perfect bug out bag. You want something durable, made of a higher denier nylon or stronger materials to prevent punctures and slicing, and with enough capacity to actually hold everything you’ll be bringing.
News flash: your backpack doesn’t have as much room as you think it does. If you think you’re underpacking, you’ll probably be at capacity.
The moment you know it’s time to leave, it should only take fifteen seconds to reach your bag, harness it on your body, and be on your way out the door.
Keep this in a cabinet or pantry, or even next to your living room couch, and be ready to use it. Going through practice drills in your apartment will help when and if the moment of truth arrives.
First Aid Kits
Even if you’re doing this solo, you need to have a first aid kit handy. In the event that you have to forage around the city for supplies, or even if you cut yourself while trying to make a meal out of your emergency food stash, you need first aid.
Hospitals may not be available, meaning that something simple like a slice from a kitchen knife could get infected if left untreated.
You can assemble your own first aid kit if you want. Red Cross has a fantastic first aid kit on our best survival kits list with over two-hundred items in it, as well as an instructional manual so you know what you’re doing.
On that subject, if you’re serious about hunkering down in your apartment, you need to learn how to use the first aid kit on yourself.
Take a first aid class, watch videos online (like this one) to know how to treat your own wounds, and get comfortable with the idea of using a first aid kit. When the moment strikes and you need to use it, nerves can creep up. Get in the right mindset.
Learn How to Stockpile in a Space Efficient Manner
Stockpiling is an art, I’m convinced of it. In an apartment, you don’t have space to waste: every single cubic foot matters.
ou want to prepare and stockpile your supplies, food, and water in a way that it doesn’t negatively impact your day-to-day life. If it’s getting in the way, you’re not stockpiling efficiently.
The first step is having designated shelf space. If you can have it somewhere that doesn’t interfere with your normal day-to-day activities, that’s great. This shelf supports up to 1,400 pounds, giving you more than a reasonable amount of space to store supplies, food, and water (those water jugs weigh a ton).
Designated space and an organizational method will serve you well. You don’t want any wasted space; make use of every square inch, every nook and cranny. These are some excellent pantry storage methods that you can use to organize all of your prepping gear.
Have as Many Alternative Power Sources as Possible
Cities suck up a lot of energy. I’m preaching to the choir – you’ve probably already experienced your fair share of rolling blackouts over the years. Having alternative, emergency power sources is going to be critical.
You’re not going to fire up a generator in your apartment or anything, so we need a few other methods.
- Power Banks: Keep high capacity power banks charged and cycled to use just in case you need them.
- Personal Solar Panels: These small panels can be used with an inverter to recharge batteries, power banks, and direct charge small appliances with lithium-ion batteries.
- Wind Turbine: In an apartment, you can actually make good use of wind turbines. Personal wind turbines can help with 12V power. Use them on the apartment roof or out of your window to generate some level of power.
- Butane Canisters: For personal camping stoves and small appliances (like the ever-important camping coffee maker). These can generally be used indoors with ventilation.
There are plenty of ways to keep the lights on and power up when disaster strikes. It’s not going to be easy, but once you know how to ration your electrical use, you’ll fall into a good groove with it.
Consider Water Filters
When a SHTF situation stalls progress, essential buildings and services can be shut down or rendered inoperable.
That means water treatment facilities. When the water comes through to your tap, they might not even issue a boil advisory – you could just be getting dirty water.
Get a pack of water filters and a filtration device for your faucet, but also keep personal water filters in your backpack such as the LifeStraw for when you’re stuck in the wilderness. You’ll need water far before you’ll need food.
On a final note, consider acquiring water test strips. You can take a small sample of filtered water and use a strip on it to see if the water is safe, discard the test water and strip, and have that peace of mind before drinking.
How to Secure Your Apartment?
You know what you need, why you need it, but now you have to know how to actually hunker down properly.
You’re going to turn your apartment into Fort Knox. This guide goes over all the different areas that you would need to focus on when preparing your apartment.
You want your door to be so secured that any attempt to break in will be met with frustration. Eventually, looters will move on if they can’t enter the apartment.
Securing your doors means fortifying them to the point that they don’t even budge or give any indication that there’s a weak spot to exploit. To secure your doors, consider the following:
#1 Flush Door Security Bolts
Reinforce doors with flush door security bolts. These don’t work the same as standard side bolts that most apartment doors have.
They go into the floor and change the way force is distributed through the door, so when an assailant tries breaking it down, they’re met with extreme resistance. Think about using your foot to stop a door from opening and how easy that is; it’s the same thing.
#2 Sash Jammers
Sash jammers are normally used on windows, but they can also be applied to doors as well for extra fortification.
When somebody tries to open a door, they work like flush door security bolts, only on the side edges of your door. You can apply a dozen of these if you wanted to, although it would make leaving a chore.
#3 Consider Replacing Apartment Door
This is something you obviously have to get approved by the building manager/owners, but if you have the option, it might be worth investing in a solid metal door to replace your current one.
If you’re willing to pay for the door and the laborer that will have to install it, you might be able to persuade the landlord by discussing how this is an investment in the property.
#4 Continuous Barrel Hinges
Popularized by Stanley, barrel hinges go the full length of your door from top to bottom. These not only prevent hinge wear and tear, but the door barely budges when you try to jostle it.
You could run full force into a door that has a continuous barrel hinge or continuous geared hinge, and it would barely move. If that doesn’t tell looters that this is not the apartment for them, nothing will.
When the door doesn’t work, the window will be an intruder’s next point of access. These quick methods help you secure your windows properly.
#1 Window Security Film
This goes onto your window like a wrap to help make it shatter-proof, or at least harder to break. The thick layer of rubber-like film will sustain shock and damages.
#2 Window Security Locks
Simple screw-in locks that keep your window shut. Many of these come with quick release buttons or levers, although some may need to be permanently installed.
#3 Cross Bars
These would go on the inside of your window and affix to the window frame. One vertical and one horizontal bar would be enough to make a four-pane-looking contraption that would not allow burglars inside should they get through the window itself.
Window security bars aren’t an option unless you’re on the ground floor. Hanging one of those metal cages out of the window to secure it to the building would be an insurance nightmare and public safety risk.
Check on Your Neighbors
Both from a humanitarian and tactical standpoint, you really should be checking in on your neighbors.
You don’t have to invite them into your fortified homestead of an apartment, but if you’re going to ally with anyone, it should be the neighbors who have somewhat common interests: staying alive in the same apartment building.
Check on them to make sure they’re safe, and to stay in-the-know of suspicious activity in the area. If they notice any looters or potential problems, they can contact you to give you a heads up. Just another reason why it’s good to have emergency communication radios.
Provide Help if You Can
When available, provide help to your neighbors and to passers-by. Our survivalist minds can take over in SHTF situations, but nine out of ten people are just looking to survive.
They’re not looking to take what’s yours, they just want to make it through the night. Kindness goes a long way, and you can express kindness without opening yourself or your family up to serious harm.
Don’t Advertise You Have a Stockpile
The only issue with solar panels and wind turbines like we mentioned before is that it will signal “Hey, I planned ahead” to anyone who sees them (which is why you should place them on the communal roof if you have the option).
At the end of the day, you’re trying to survive. Don’t give anyone a reason to even consider breaking into your apartment. Avoid the following:
- Displaying signs in the windows.
- Leaving lights on or electronics on during the night.
- Convening with other survivalists in your own apartment unit (this signals leadership and can be seen as a threat).
Above all, just lay low and do not attract any unwanted attention. Don’t give anyone a reason to think that you’re worth stealing from.
Apartment Survival is an Entirely Different Type of Prepping
Riding out riots and disasters while hunkered down in your apartment might be your best option if you don’t have a way to get out of the city effectively.
If so, now you know exactly what you need to do to prevent prying eyes from taking your stockpile, and how to barricade yourself in at the same time.
In the world of civil and political unrest, it’s difficult to say for certain where we’ll be in five years. Hopefully, it’s in a prosperous nation, but we just don’t know. It’s important to be prepared for anything and everything that might come your way.