How to Be a Prepper in an Apartment
by K.M. Nevel
Given that the majority of Americans live in heavily populated urban areas, it’s likely that many of us are living in apartment and condo complexes and buildings, whether by choice or out of necessity. It’s reasonable to assume that apartment renters are just as likely as a homeowner, if not more so, to suffer a disaster or emergency event, so survival preparedness is critical.
But living in an apartment presents several challenges to even the most experienced survivalist. The two biggest issues that an apartment renter must consider when preparing for that disaster or worst-case scenario are security and a lack of storage.
Security is hard to come by in an apartment complex, for many reasons. Perimeter control is especially difficult. Parking lots are rarely well lit and the same can be true for courtyards and walkways. If your building is lucky enough to have a doorman, they’re usually not anyone who is well-trained or capable of fending off an intruder or determined burglar. Security alarms are often ignored completely in favor of more insurance company friendly fire alarms.
Those same insurance company policies may allow for “security cameras,” but the likelihood that anyone is monitoring them is slim and, on the rare occasion that they are working, they can be defeated, bypassed or avoided altogether.
Dogs are usually prohibited because of the noise and the potential damage involved, and, even if you’re fortunate enough to live in a dog-friendly complex, you’ll likely be restricted to a smaller dog that’s more bark than bite. The good news is that, while a smaller dog won’t protect you physically, it will give you plenty of warning that you’re about to have company. Enough time to allow you to fist your firearm of choice, for example.
Another threat to your security are those pesky neighbors that seem to mind everyone’s business but their own. The ones who watch you hungrily as you move in, eyeing with envy your widescreen TV and your camera gear.
These same neighbors seem to be present whenever you come back from the range, too, looking on as you carry various weapons cases and expensive camping gear into your abode. They can always be found in the lobby when the mail comes, noting your gun catalogs and survival magazines. You can almost estimate in your head the number of days until your place is robbed and your valuables taken.
Major modifications to your doors and windows are usually not an option, so security upgrades can be limited. The landlord probably won’t allow you to reinforce door and window frames, so a visit to the hardware store is the best you’ll be able to manage, but anything that blocks or slows down an intruder is a step in the right direction.
Obviously, in an apartment complex environment, weapons security is incredibly important. Gun safes are great to have, but they are tough to move up flights of stairs if you’re above the first floor or two, and they take up a lot of space. You won’t be able to bolt it to the floor, but I guess you could always lay it on its back and use it as a coffee table.
Absent a gun safe, put trigger locks on all your guns. Savvy burglars may not bother with them if they can’t find the keys, and, if they are stolen, they’ll at least be unusable and therefore more likely to be recovered by police.
Storage space can be an equally complicated issue when you live in an apartment. I suppose you can stack canned goods and ammo boxes in the shapes of chairs and couches, but, even with the right cushions, your friends are going to notice. Hilarity will then ensue at your expense.
Storage space inside your apartment is at a premium and is likely taken up by belongings that you use every day. Long-term storage for items that you rarely – if ever – use, is hard to come by. A spare bedroom can be utilized, of course, and it will keep supplies out of your way but close enough to rotate into your pantry, when appropriate.
A basement can also be modified to fill this need, and, with a little shelving, can be an ideal storage space for a multitude of survival goodies.
Finding an apartment with a securable garage can make things much easier, especially if you plan on having enough supplies on hand to last a month or so. Water, food, ammo, first aid supplies and other emergency equipment can take up a lot of room, so you’d better plan on parking your car somewhere else.
An open parking space with a storage bin can also be used, but again, theft is a problem. Hinges are easily removed and even the best padlock can be defeated with a suitable application of force and determination.
You may also consider a storage facility if you can afford the expensive rates. Storage lockers come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes – and are priced accordingly – but you should make sure that it’s close enough to reach, by foot, when things get ugly. Otherwise, you just provided supplies for your morally-challenged neighbors on the other side of town when the proverbial crap hit’s the fan.
A better alternative is to find some like-minded friends who live in the neighborhood and form a security plan that addresses the need – and storage – of essential items for all of you in the event of an emergency. Such a plan is also handy when money is an issue since you will have the advantage of several incomes to purchase common supplies.
In addition to having critical items readily available, you’ll have the added benefit of trusted companions to rely upon at critical moments. And that can mean the difference between life and death, no matter how well supplied you are.
Failing any of these, the trunk of your car can be a godsend. Emergency water, food rations, first aid kit, spare batteries, and extra ammo can all be stored safely and for long periods of time, and nobody but Superman is going to know it’s there. This provides the added benefit of being handy if you’re caught away from home when disaster strikes.
As an added security measure, disable the trunk release on the dashboard of your car so that the key is needed to open the trunk. This will defeat the smash-window-pop-trunk-steal-goodies method popular among car burglars and thieves.
Even with limited space and the increased risk of theft, apartment residents can be prepared for any eventuality. Secure your property as best you can, discuss evacuation plans with friends and relatives, build your stockpiles (essentials first, then goodies) and, first and foremost, prepare for the defense of yourself and your family. When tragedy strikes, you’re going to be on your own.
And finally, given the state of the world at this moment, you’d better start today.