Apartment Prepping Mistakes to Avoid

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 This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

I started this blog just a few months after I started my journey into preparing for emergencies.  Now that I’ve had a little bit of time trying things out, I thought I’d share some of our less than stellar results.  Hopefully you will avoid some of the mistakes that we’ve made.

  • Not keeping track of expiration dates.  I feel I have to keep reminding myself and others to keep track of those expiration dates.  I know these are not firm dates, and many items keep past the posted date.  However, some packaged foods really do not taste so good even when slightly past the date.  One example is the Dole Fruit Cups.  I tried eating one that was past the date.  I did not get sick but the stuff did not taste good– it had a waxy taste that is not there when the item is fresh.   At best, you will end up with off-tasting food, but it could be worse.  Take a sharpie and rewrite the date where it is visible and keep rotating those packages!
  • Not keeping a good inventory of items.   Storing stuff in an apartment is challenging and many times, we are forced to stash things in different spots around the unit.  When supplies are stored separately, it is easy to lose track of what you have.   You may not find your emergency items when you most need them most.  You may forget you already have an item and wind up buying multiples.  It’s good to have redundancy, but not if you lost track of what you have.  Keep a written inventory of what you have including their locations.
  • Not storing enough water.  Because of space constraints, many apartment dwellers may neglect storing enough water for everyone in the household including pets.  I know it is difficult but it is possible- consider stackable Water Bricks   The Water Bob is also one I keep for emergencies-as soon as a hurricane warning is issued, we fill up the tub.  Don’t store water in flimsy containers, including 2.5 gallon bottled water jugs.  I’ve already had an accident with a water jug once, and nearly flooded my closet another time.   Don’t make these same mistakes.  Store water in disinfected soda bottles as they are more sturdy, or those new BPA free plastic containers.
  • Buying equipment without checking if you have room.  I’ve received email from readers who bought big ticket items such as generators without checking where they would store it, or even if their building allows these items.  Similarly, I’ve seen neighbors bringing a big barbecue grill then finding out our lease does not allow grills due to fire hazard rules.  Read your lease before making large purchases and decide in advance where you would store things before buying them.
  • Taking security for granted.  Many rentals are considered “security apartments” and many tenants take this for granted.  I see many of my neighbors leaving their garage doors open all day; or being very obvious when they are going on vacation.  One security failure for preppers is having deliveries of items in labeled and highly visible boxes.  In our building, the deliveries are made at the leasing offices, so it gets very obvious who’s getting new stuff.  When ordering, find out from customer service what type of boxes will be delivered and keep track of your delivery dates.
  • Keeping supplies out in plain view.  A couple of issues about apartment living is the proximity of everyone around, and the access various people have to your living space.  Keep your blinds closed so that no one passing by your window can peak and see all the goodies you have around.  Be selective about whom you grant access to your unit.  Some are unavoidable such as when you have maintenance issues, but some can be avoided.  Our apartment has a pest control crew and I have denied them access in the past.

We’ve all had those “I sure wish I had known better” moments.   All we can do is continue to learn.  Hopefully these tips will keep you from making the same mistakes.

© Apartment Prepper 2015

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  1. Expiration dates are no big deal. Canned foods typically last 10-15 years past their expiration date. Colour may suffer but they will still be edible. Even meds can still be good although potency will be effected. Good luck all! It’s coming and in some nasty places, it’s here.

    1. Hi big stu, This is true, I hold on to the meds past expiration as well-I figure, a lot better than nothing. Good luck to you and thanks for stopping by!

    2. And don’t forget noodles, macaroni, rice added to many canned foods like beef stew, chicken dumplings, adds flavor and substance.

      1. Hi Jayjay, We all need to include some variety even in emergency foods-for a nutrition as well as a psychological boost. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Thank you for the post. I’m always interested in learning from the mistakes of others. The expiration dates issue is one that I’m currently working on. It’s a challenge because I have trouble with organization.

    1. Hi wen budro, Glad you found the post helpful! I’ve had a lot of trial and error and I don’t mind sharing. Thanks for the comment.

  3. In regard to water storage …. the WaterBob is an absolute necessity …. in conjunction with that “last minute” water storage are a smaller version of the Bob …. they sell 2 1/2 and 5 gallon versions of poly flexible collapsible water jugs …. also similar they store almost flat are very bendy & flexible …. great to sqeeze into those nooks & cranies that go unused …. you know that space behind the frig?

    1. Hey Illini Warrior, Great idea, using those forgotten spaces. Every little bit helps. Thanks for the comment!

  4. On expiration dates – the only one you have to be VERY scrupulous about are commercially canned tomato products. Within a month or so of expiration date, they should still be okay, but I wouldn’t trust them beyond that. I was raised on “expiration dates are suggestions, not absolutes”, so I was pretty upset when an entire case of tomato paste that was about 6 months past expiration date went bad. I had grabbed one to use and didn’t realize the lid was bulged. (It’s really hard to tell with the small cans of tomato paste.) When the can opener pierced the lid, it spurted all over and there was a “tunnel” from the top all the way to the bottom of the can. I opened 3 or 4 cans like that before I gave up and tossed them all out. I called the company and they said they are not using the same kind of steel in their cans and especially tomato products need to be used by their expiration dates. I have quit using commercially canned tomato paste, etc. and now use tomato powder instead. We buy #10 cans – they have no added chemicals, can be kept for up to 25 years unopened and tastes great! If I can get my garden to cooperate, I plan to dehydrate and powder my own tomatoes!

    1. Hi DRWinAZ, Thanks for sharing your experience with tomato products! That would be a shame to stock up and lose them all due to spoilage. I will have to try tomato powder. I appreciate your comment!

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