Bugging In: How to Barricade Your Apartment

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Editor’s note: One of the most sought after topics in the blog is regarding maintaining security in an apartment especially in a grid down, extended catastrophe where is the rule of law may not be enforced. In today’s guest post, we look at extensive tips on how to barricade yourself in your apartment in case you have to bug in.

Bugging In: How to Barricade Your Apartment

Written by Travis Noonan

The need to protect your home during a disaster or mass civil unrest could become very real in a hurry. We’re not talking about digging up a mote or transforming your abode into some Mad Max compound – that’s unrealistic. The goal of fortification is to deter conflict and prying eyes and prevent forced entry. We’re going to teach you how to barricade your apartment the right way.

Barricading Your Apartment: The Checklist

Barricading your apartment and bugging in during “disaster X” does not mean nailing some 2×4 boards over your windows, sticking a shotgun by the front door, and calling it a day. There are important boxes to check off (lest you wind up a prisoner to your own home):

Investing in the right tools and security
Building up a non-perishable foot stock
Securing a reliable supply of potable water
Creating a security system and defense plan
Designating a safe room and creating an exit plan
Selecting and training with defensive weapons

One of these tasks is not more important than the other. You need to execute each of these checklist items with equal effort.

Barricade Tools and Security Checklist

Let’s dive into the literal part of this project first: Physically barricading your doors, windows, and other entryways. You’ll need to address the obvious points first. Windows and doors will need to be reinforced and made impenetrable.

Door Reinforcements

Security Striker Plates

Upgrading the striker plates for your deadbolts and door handles will add an extra layer of protection against blunt-force entry. Striker plates (as the name implies) help prevent your door and jamb from cracking and failing when kicked or struck.

Locking Door Latches

Upgrading your doors’ latches is a smart idea, too. Beefy locking latches provide even more security and help prevent your doors from being compromised at their weakest point.

Swing Bar Lock

If an intruder manages to defeat your locks and latches, a classic swing bar lock will act as a last stand against your entryway becoming fully compromised.

Portable Door Jammer

Portable door jammers can be used in a hurry during a home invasion attempt. Just extend the jammer and prop it against the door handle and floor.

Door Bar Brackets

Shoving a big ole’ 2×4 or metal bar over your door frame to barricade it is something Hollywood made popular, but it’s a very real thing. Open metal bracket systems are affordable and can be mounted directly to any door jamb or frame. All you need to do is source a bar the right width or buy up some lumber and cut it to fit.

Window Security and Barricades

Intruders will probably seek out a window before trying a main entryway. Sliding windows can be quickly defeated, but a few investments will make a window intrusion unlikely:

Sliding Window Locks

Sliding window locks attach directly to the window frame, preventing either pane of glass from being opened for entry. These metal fasteners provide better security than the built-in locks found on most residential windows.

Reflective Security Film

Reflective security window film provides two advantages for the barricading prepper: It keeps out prying eyes, eliminating any intruder’s ability to gain an advantage by seeing into your apartment, and it provides extra resistance to shattering the window. These high-strength films will keep a broken window intact, helping to prevent entry.

Adjustable Window Bars

Window security bars provide even more protection against an intruder if a window is defeated. Adjustable bar sets can be sized up for any residential window. Once fastened to the window frame, they’ll be much more difficult to defeat with blunt force.

Building up a Shelf-Stable Food Stock

Fortifying your apartment for a long-haul stint indoors means ensuring you have the right food stock. Perishables won’t do you any good here. You’ll need to invest in shelf-stable food, already a best practice for most preppers.

To get you started, we recommend reading through our guide “How to Build an Emergency Food Supply”. You should also focus on stocking up with these foods and categories:

  • Rice
  • Bulk salt
  • Bulk sugar
  • Canned beans
  • Canned & dried fruits
  • Canned soup
  • Cured meats
  • Dried fish
  • Powdered milk
  • Protein bars
  • Dried pasta
  • Raw flour
  • Raw honey

Securing a Reliable Water Supply

You’ll need a steady supply of drinking water if “disaster X” lasts more than a few days. You don’t want to bet on whether you’ll last long enough with a few cases of bottled water. Barricading means long-term thinking, and that means creating a water collection and filtration system.

Relatively affordable water filter systems are available for homes and apartments. They include hook-ups for the sink tap and public water supply, and most can be outfitted to be filled manually with bottles or buckets.

Collecting water shouldn’t be difficult – use your property to your advantage here: Route a gutter system from the roof to the most convenient window or set up a gutter to fill up a large drum or weatherproof container outside. You can even buy a rain collection barrel with a spigot and collection taps built in. Invest in 5-gallon drums for storage.

Create a Security System and Defense Plan

In a perfect world, your well-fortified apartment will be enough of a deterrent against intruders – but you can’t rely on this being the most likely scenario. You need to plan against an active home invasion and conduct drills with all members of your household.

The best defense plan includes an early-warning system – a security system, ideally one with live cameras and alarms. Home security has come a long way, and affordable plug-and-play security cameras are now available with no wiring or “handyman” requirements. Units like these come with motion sensors, alarms and instant notifications, and live audio and video feeds that transmit directly to your smartphone.

Designate a Safe Room and Exit Plan

Every castle has its keep and your fortified apartment will be no different. You need to designate a safe room. This will be your rally point, your point of last stand, and – in a worst-case scenario – the position from which you quickly execute an emergency exit if needed.

As such, your designated safe room should have an egress point for emergencies. It should be a position in your home that affords total control over the entry point and gives you a distinct advantage over an intruder trying to advance.

An ideal safe room is large enough for its inhabitants to take cover or hide (bathrooms and kitchens are no good). It should have a conventional setup: Four right-angled walls, one window, and one door way.

Your exit plan should take into consideration your safe room and where you’ll be located in your apartment if you need to make a quick exit. Your exit plan should include the means to defeat your own barricades in a hurry, too – door and window security could be deadly to you if it imprisons you when you need to escape.

Select and Train with Defensive Weapons

Ultimately, the time to fight and defend your life may come. The best barricades may be defeated, you might not have time to escape, and you may need to dispatch an immediate threat without pause. Defending your own life is a heavy subject, but we wouldn’t be doing you justice if we pretended this wasn’t a possibility.

To give yourself the best advantage, you need to consider close-quarters weaponry. More importantly, you need to train with such weaponry and be confident in its use – you’ll be functioning on muscle memory with little time to concentrate in a “life-or-death” scenario.

We’ll keep this guide as short as it can be. Simply navigate over to our topic guide, Personal Defense Weapons for Apartment Dwellers. It covers both non-lethal and lethal weapons designed for close-quarters combat and defensive postures.


Barricading your apartment means checking the box on a few critical requirements:

  1. Barricading doors and windows
  2. Stocking up on shelf-stable food
  3. Sourcing a drinking water supply
  4. Creating a security system and defense plan
  5. Designating a safe room and emergency exit
  6. Purchasing and training with defense weapons

Reinforced latches, security bars, and upgraded fasteners cover doors and windows sufficiently. Your water supply should include an independent filtration system. Your defense plan should include an emergency exit plan. Both plans should be based on your designated safe room. Ensure you can defeat your own barricades in a hurry. Invest in non-lethal and lethal close-quarters weapons by reviewing our guide linked just above the summary.

About the author:

Travis Noonan is a Pennsylvanian prepper, military veteran, and gunsmith who writes for Apartment Prepper. He schools other shooters on how to build an AR-15 with an 80 lower receiver. In his spare time, Travis hikes the Appalachian trail and goes bass fishing.

Image by F. Muhammad from Pixabay

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  1. a whole different approach to tackling a SHTF lockdown – whole building instead of trying to isolate your individual apartment >>> could find all kinds of mutual acceptance & assistance from your fellow apartment building dwellers – you need to have a plan and some prep supplies to make it functional ….

    1. Hi Illini, That is a great point. If you can get all your neighbors together, you can all protect your building in a lockdown, instead of individual units. Thanks for the comment!

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