October 22, 2016

Apartment Prepping Tips from Readers

This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

From time to time, helpful readers send me their best tips.  I thought I would share a variety to them so everyone can benefit.

General Prepping Tips

Firestarter Source:  My wife and I live in a tiny apartment with no washer/dryer.   As such, we have to use the wash station in the complex.  Something that I’ve done for a while now is when I open up the dryers, I clean out the lint trap (people rarely do this when that remove their clothes.)   I have collected a gallon-sized bag of lint that I keep as a really good source for fire starters for when I go camping.  One small spark is all it takes to light, and it gets a fire going quickly.  Maybe this little apartment living specific tip would help others.  -Joseph P.

Water:  My preparedness tip is to make having a good supply of water a top priority. Have several large size rigid (bpa free) water containers filled and ready as well as have bottles water in your bug out bag.  Amy S.

Minimum Preps:  I think if you live in an apartment with limited space and resources, there are two things that would be important. One, have at least one week of food, water and supplies (candles, batteries, toiletries, first aid, extra blankets, etc.) on hand, per person. You should have a source of boiling water such as a buddy burner, or BBQ, as you will need water for sanitation and heating or preparing food. You will need sanitation in case  you don’t have access to running water (a 5 gallon bucket with liner). Keep these items separate and accessible, such as in a large tote. Also, one should have a bug out bag for 3 days with a change of clothes and any medication needed. I think that if you need to leave immediately or stay in place, one should have both options available and ready at a moments notice. I of course could go into much more detail about both of these, but I think you get the idea.

The other thought I have is that one should utilize all available space creatively to store food. Stock up on sales and cover that table in the corner with a floor length table cloth and stack up food or toilet paper underneath. No one will know you have cans of food under there. I have found space in my closets between towels and sheets that are great for stashing bars of soap, deodorant, toothpaste, etc without trying to put it all into a box somewhere that takes up even more space. Be creative, just remember to rotate. -Rose

I always have some form of first aid available (I bought a basic Johnson and Johnson’s kit a few years ago; and now it’s time to update it), some water and basic food that I can eat. Since I am still in a mobile part of my life (recent grad), one of the first things I buy when moving into a new place is rice (about 2-3 pounds) and lentils (1-2 pounds). They keep for a good while and are pretty cheap. If I have the room, I’ll buy some spare water bottles. I also buy extra toilet paper if I have room.  My criteria for buying things is 1) What is the nutritional value of food that I am buying or how will this benefit me in the long run, 2) Can I take this with me for my next move aka is it transportable and long term storage, 3) If I can’t take it with me, how much money I am going to loose aka what’s my risk investment (what food and/or water during moves, I give to my church, local food bank or to a starving collage-aged friend).

In summary, I ask and make sure that 1) do I have a first aid kit? 2) Do I have (relatively cheap and long lasting) food that will help me get through a 3 day to 1 week crisis? 3) Do I have enough water? 4) Do I have at least one alternative way to cook/prep food?  (In collage I didn’t have number 4 down because that question didn’t pop in my head then.)

Living in Spain for the past 6 months has shown me how little I am prepared for anything and how much I need to prepare once I find a stable, consist income. ~Kim

I think apartment dwellers face many of the same challenges as those who live in houses. No matter where we live we all need at least a 72 hour kit, good locks/ door fortification, fire alarms and extinguishers, and a self defense tool. Like apartments, some houses can be more than 2 stories so a rope/emergency ladder wouldn’t hurt either.  – C. N., Ontario, Canada

Lots of garbage bags!  My tip is always have a full box of garbage bags at home. Garbage bags are useful obviously for disposing of trash, but also for acting as a disposable toilet in conjunction with a bucket, covering and protecting potted or un-potted plants during a sudden frost or storm, and for storing leftover water from the tub in an emergency situation until the water mains run out.

It can also act as a makeshift rain poncho with a few choice holes and can be cut into strips If needed to tie stakes. Stuffed with leaves it can also be used as a pillow and insulator.

Make sure to get the kind with the plastic cinch pull handles! It can also be used when the bag is used up as stake and plant ties, and also as trail markers.

Garbage bags are also cheap, picked up at any dollar tree. –Molly B.

I would think for the sake of space, invest in a food dehydrator. Also, most apartments only have one entrance door–fortify or replace (with permission) the standard entryway door. Most doors offer little or no protection: fortify the hinges, at the very least, add a peep hole and dead bolt.  –Lee P.

 Growing Food

Although I no longer live in an apartment, I think the largest challenge is growing your own food. This is a difficult skill to master, even James (The Covert Prepper) reassured me by saying it took him 3 seasons to get it right. I’m beginning my second with much excitement but also with the understanding that this is a skill, something to learn and test.

My best prepping tip for an apartment dweller would be to learn this skill and practice it at home. Try experiments with scraps, amazingly that celery grew! My cousin takes seeds from peppers she buys in the store, and plants them right into a pot in her kitchen, it works. I have also heard about a planting potatoes in a bucket, or potato tower, really quite the spatially economical way to grow. There are videos on youtube with people growing vertical window gardens using plastic bottles. For those fortunate enough to have a balcony, you can use pallets as vertical mediums, or James also recommended using eaves trough to create a garden on a wall. If you don’t have a balcony, I would suggest replacing house plants with food plants, begin with easier stuff like sprouts, radish or lettuce.  With just a little bit of imagination and some practice, this challenge can be overcome, an apartment can yield a great amount of food, certainly more than the average house working to produce grass. It’s a great skill to have, and a great feeling to grow your own food, yes, even in an apartment.  C. N., Ontario, Canada

Frugal Preps

Clean and completely dry some empty 2L soda bottles.   Buy food in bulk and store in 2L bottles with lid.  Rice, grits, sugar, salt and other course granular foods work well.  Store away from direct light.  You now have a waterproof, shatterproof, portable food container.  –TacSKS


We lived in an apartment for several years before buying our house and I always hated the fact that the management office and maintenance employees could come in anytime they pleased.  There were actually several thefts and it turned out to be a maintenance worker stealing while tenants were gone to work.  In order to keep my stash of emergency food, prescription meds, money, and other prepper-type items hidden in plain sight, I would use cardboard boxes and label them with really boring titles.  “Winter clothes, summer clothes, baby clothes, yard sale items, books, blankets, etc.”….basically nothing worth taking the time to rummage through when there was jewelery and electronics in plain sight.

The difficult part about prepping while living in an apartment complex, if how hard it can be to add any security to your home. You can be as prepared as possible, but if you can’t secure your living quarters from intruders, it is far too easy for them to break in and plunder your preparations.

The first point is to keep your preparations and plans to yourself. As nice as your neighbors seems, everyone gets desperate during difficult times. The fewer people living around you that know you have a stockpile of supplies, the less chance you have of them busting down you door looking for them.  Another seemingly obvious point is to not rent a ground floor apartment. It may be nice and convenient to not carry your groceries up a flight or two of stairs, you get multitudes better security by living on a higher floor. Intruders will be going for the easy break ins first, leaving you much more secure on your upper floor. Not to mention, all those stairs will give you that much more exercise in preparation!

Though most all apartment owners will not allow you to modify doors, windows, etc. to improve your security, there area few things you can do to bolster your perimeter fortifications. Be sure to place a metal pole in any patio door or horizontal sliding window. Though an intruder could still break the glass and enter through, they may be
looking for a stealthier option, and move to the next apartment unit that is less secured. For vertical sliding windows, a board or piece of 3/4″ plywood can be placed in the top section of the window to keep it from sliding up.

Hopefully with this added security, you can keep control of your carefully stockpiled supplies better.  -Greg Z.

1-If you were forced to relocate due to foreclosure or sale of a property you don’t own, what is a good alternative nearby?
2-Do you know where you would store your things and could you mobilize quickly?
3-What are your opsec needs? the population density changes your needs. My car is always out of gas and I am always out of food, if I am asked. secure your money/meds
4-What amenities can save you money ? free linen service? Tennis court? monthly swap meet? The mobile food pantry comes here twice a week. I have not had to touch my 3 month supply or buy paper goods at all!  A. H.,  houdiniphile, Charlotte, NC

Earthquake Preparedness

When prepping for an earthquake, you don’t necessary have to strap the shelf to the wall or glue the items to the shelf as suggested.  Simply put all your heavier items on the bottom.  In our house that meant putting all the books on the bottom & all the figurines on top.  In all the years we’ve lived in California, we’ve only had 1 or 2 items fall off a bookshelf in an earthquake & these were light paper items like Christmas cards.  breakable figurines & plates have stayed on the shelf!  The books seem to act as a weight that allows the bookshelf to sway with the quake but not topple over, keeping it upright & your items safe!

… that being said we haven’t had anything overly strong.  We lived through the Northridge quake but we were miles from the epicenter.  So – legal disclaimer – this isn’t a guarantee by any means.  But it’s worked at my home & at my office quite well.  So to be totally safe I guess do all 3: strap the shelf, glue the items & place heavier items like books on the bottom.  But places like my office won’t let you do that.  So my binders & manuals are on the bottom shelf & it’s survived 2 quakes now.  –Steffie

Know Your Neighbors

Get your *neighbors* to prep.

If things go sideways, you’ll be surrounded by hungry and increasingly desperate people who live mere inches away from your home and family.

The key, however, is to be low-key and not alarmist. You also don’t want tip your hand about supplies you have stored.

Strike up conversations at the rubbish bin or mailbox. “Hey, did you hear about that earthquake/flood/tornado in <wherever>? I heard that it took a week for them to get food, water, and power back. Makes one think, doesn’t it? You know… WE should store some water, food, lanterns, and candles in case the power goes out in our building!”

Follow up in a few weeks with a pamphlet explaining how to build an emergency kit. Work your way through the building. Contact the Red Cross or other organization to see if someone will come speak to your Neighborhood Watch chapter or HOA. Post notices about local emergency preparation fairs sponsored by the fire department or the city. Get them talking to EACH OTHER about preparedness.

The more people who are prepared, the better it is for all of us.  —     A. Prepper

I think the most important survival tip for an apartment dweller is to know your neighbors.  By living in an apartment, you have limitations of what, and how much, gear, water, food, ammo, etc, you can store.  You will most likely not be able to rely only on yourself.  By forging some kind of bond with your neighbors, you create a sense of community that lends itself to banding together in times of need.  In nonemergency times, it is still a great idea to know your neighbors.  When your life is on the line, it is imperative to know who you can count on.  –L. N.

© Apartment Prepper 2015

You’ll find lots of low cost prepping tips in my new book:
Bernie's Latest Book

June Sales

4 Comments on Apartment Prepping Tips from Readers

  1. I wrote a book that I think you would be interested in reading. I sent you an email about it and titled the email “Book Review.” Let me know if you would want a free copy to review.

    B. C. Scott.

  2. all of the above . 🙂

    Go to the nearest Asian/Latin grocery store and pick up a 1-burner Butane stove for <$15 and some butane cylinders (about $6 for 4 cans). Safe to use indoors (open a window anyway). Think "1 set in your kitchen, 1 set in each of your vehicles, and backup" – They're cheap, WTF?.

    Not only handy in a TEOTWAKI- situation – saved my butt last Thanksgiving when the power went out .

    • Hey Wyzyrd, That is a great idea. Did not realize the ethnic markets carry those butane stoves. Cost less than $15 is a great price! Thanks for the tip!

  3. to Greg Z., I have been in apt maint for 38 years an never stolen any thing
    now we can not just go in any time we feel like unless there is an em,

1 Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. SURVIVALISTS BLOG | Apartment Prepping Tips from Readers – Apartment Prepper

Comments are closed.