Apartment Hardening

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This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

I saw an interesting segment on Apocalypse 101, a new survival show featuring the team at Forge Survival Supply.   I’ve only caught parts of the show, but this one caught my attention, because it was about an apartment dweller in Manhattan who lived in the second floor.  She wanted to bug in and barricade herself in the apartment, in the event of TEOTWAWKI.  The team showed her how to harden her apartment so she could survive as well as possible in a society collapse.

The team asked the lady to show them all possible entrances and exits to her apartment.

They then went to the hardware store where they picked up lots of nails, tools such as hammers, wire cutters, heavy duty staple gun, chicken wire, wood, etc.  I actually thought it would be a good idea to have tools handy in the apartment, before anything happens.  In a collapse, these tools would disappear from shelves very quickly.


First, the team reinforced the windows on the outside by stapling chicken wire all around.  The chicken wire would protect the windows from shattering in case bottles, rocks or even a Molotov cocktail was thrown at them.

They then covered the inside of the windows with black trash bags so no one outside could see in.  In a grid down situation, light will attract attention, which should be avoided.


In front of the doors that would most likely get broken into, the team hammered a bunch of large nails on a piece of wood, thereby making a doormat of nails.  If an undesirable someone were to step inside, they would “accidentally” step on the nails.

Fire Escape

In a dangerous, grid down scenario, the fire escape could be used to get into her apartment so they showed her how to make the ladder slippery by slathering on grease, and wrapping barbed wire around the area.  Of course, in “normal” times, rigging the fire escape and interfering with access would be against fire codes and therefore must not be attempted.  Again they were showing her tips to protect herself in case of TEOTWAWKI.  Another reason for the barbed wire was to deter attackers by giving them the perception that this unit would be a hard nut to crack and hopefully they would move on to something else.

I’m not sure how long these deterrents would hold up during an extended disaster; however, having these protections certainly would be better than nothing.  I would also make sure there is an escape route planned ahead of time, if all else fails.

Of course the most important factor to survive is the right mindset, and the lady featured seemed to have what it takes.

© Apartment Prepper 2013

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  1. I have not seen this episode yet, very informative. My family might be able to implement these suggestion even on our homestead in the country.

    1. Hi Nora, I think so too, the ideas are very doable. They also had an episode a while back about a couple that wanted to defend their country home and it was only the 2 adults. The team suggested they need help from the community but the couple disagreed. Thanks for the comment!

  2. I live in a apartment in Houston as well and have thought about similar options to fortify but in the end they can just burn out your unit 🙁

    1. Hi John, Hopefully it won’t ever get that bad, but if it appears to, then the city will not be a safe place to stay, whether apartment or house. Thanks for the comment!

  3. The door mat idea has me worried about executing it properly. Most apartment doors open inward, right?
    That means the nails can’t be in that area and the coverage would have to be 2 or 3 times the open area around the door to stop someone.

    I think a better idea would be a brace style door jam. Something that can resist the door being kicked in. Another idea would be to hammer nails into the outside frame and stretch fishing line across the opening at knee level. Get the nails in close enough, paint to match the frame and it would be an almost invisible trip wire.

    I liked the chicken wire over the windows. That could be something I use at the house in case of problems.

    1. Yes, most apartment doors open inward. I liked the chicken wire idea as well. Thanks for the comment Bob S!

  4. I think that covering your fire escape with barbed wire would do nothing but announce that there was something worth taking up above. That would also prevent the folks in the apartment for using it for the purpose it was designed for: escape in an emergency. I’d probably just rig the ladder to the street with some chain (or maybe zip ties) so it could only be lowered from above, and do something with noisemakers (empty cans full of marbles on a tripline?) so that you’d hear if someone tried to come down from above.

    1. Hi Oak, Yes- the fire escape must not be hampered in any way, and calling attention to yourself is not a good idea. Noisemakers to alert you would be a good idea. Thanks for the comment

  5. I may be repeating the post, but please remember that booby traps are illegal. Only try these methods in a grid down/shtf scenario. You can prepare the hardening measures but you cannot leave them in place.

    1. Hi B, Yes, Tampering with the fire escape and setting traps is illegal. Any measures covered in the episode only apply for TSHTF grid down situation. Thanks for the comment!

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