How to Make a Realistic Urban Bug in Plan

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Written by Dan Stevens, Modern Survival Online

It is said urbanites cannot bug in. Bugging out seems to be the first choice for people who are trapped in cities that will become death traps. Bugging in seems to be a luxury if you either live in the burbs, a small town or the wilderness or… if you’re willing to move there.

Allow me to prove those people wrong. Well, in part, because there are limits to what you can do to bug in if you live in an apartment building. But I will show you there’s a huge number of things you can do to stay inside your flat for a looong time. Well, more like a month, which is not that long of a time, but it’s still a lot longer than most unprepared people will last.

Of course, there’re a variety of factors to consider And that’s exactly our starting point…

Step 1: Assess Your Situation

Some of the things to keep in mind before prepping to bug in (or bug out or any other disaster scenario, really), include:

  • the location of your apartment building
  • the kind of neighbors you have
  • number of family members
  • whether you have people with disabilities or other medical conditions
  • whether you have pets
  • the population count of your town or city
  • whether or you know other people or even have a prepper network
  • your age and sex
  • your fitness level and that of your family (if your spouse is in bad shape, this could be a problem in get home scenarios or when you venture outside to look for food and water)

As you can see, there are quite a lot of things to worry about, fitness in particular. Even if you hunker down, you never know when your home is invaded, when you’re trapped in a riot or when you’re being chased by thugs or looters in the street.

To help you better prepare, here’s a list of priorities to consider:

Water, food, communications, security, fitness and making bug out plans are the things that I recommend in order, though you may change the order if you think it’s necessary. Why? Because you’re in a different situation than me, and having different needs may mean different priorities.
In leaving shelter out because I’m assuming you’re already bugged in, by the way, though it wouldn’t hurt to mark on your map the places that could act as temporary shelter, should you be unable to get home.

Step 2: What Are You Most Afraid Of?

No, I’m not trying to scare you. I want to know what some of the things you prep for are. Are you prepping for a state of emergency, live we’ve seen in Europe following terrorist attacks? Are you prepping for heavy snow, extreme heat, the dollar collapse or a grid down situation?

It wouldn’t hurt to make a list and put these disasters in order. Just keep one thing in mind, some of them will trigger other disasters. It’s like a domino effect. Hurricanes bring with them tornadoes and floods, the collapse of the dollar would also bring nationwide riots, famine and an increase in crime.

So as you figure out which of these disasters you’re most afraid of, consider the others that are likely to occur. Just try not to get too fixated on one thing. Many people are worried about a dollar collapse, so they start buying gold and silver, forgetting that food and water may be worth more than precious metals during a crisis.

Step 3: Stockpiling

Stockpiling is probably one of the biggest issue urban preppers have to face.

Where will I keep everything?
…you’re probably asking yourself.

The bad news is, I can’t help you magically get more space in your apartment. The good news is, there are many small places around your flat that can be used to store things. Now, I know you run the risk of family and friends running into them, but what’s more important: your life, or what others think of you?

OK, now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk about the most important think to store. Beyond a weapon, beyond tools and gear, you first and foremost need water + means to procure it.

You can only survive up to 3 days without water and, in the city, it’s going to be hard to find. You don’t have a back yard to dig a well, you don’t have a roof to install a rainwater harvesting system… so, again, you need to get creative.

  • Consider:
    a waterBOB to fill your bath tub with the liquid your life as soon as you hear news that of a disaster
  • several water filtration systems including pocket-sized filters for your survival bags
  • water in any kind of container you want

As for food, you need to keep in mind that it needs a cool, dry dark place away from rodents. If you can buy a freezer, that’d be great. Many people like to have a stocked up pantry and freezer, so don’t worry too much about what others would think if you started building a food supply. You’re storing real food not MREs, so they have no reason to judge you.

Now, I’m not saying you need to keep beans inside your furniture, but there are other places you can store that you’ve probably never thought of before:

  • above kitchen cabinets
  • in various containers, including Pringles cans
  • under the stairs
  • inside storage ottomans
    …and so on

One place you should avoid for storing perishables is the bathroom. Unless it’s your second bathroom that you’ve repurposed as a safe room; just try to remember not to take showers there, to avoid creating humidity.

Speaking of which, here’s a few long-shelf life foods you might want to consider: rice, pasta, spam, honey, beans, noodles, canned fish, pickles, jam, jellies and so on.
Given that you have limited space, you should also consider freeze-dried food, as it’s low in water content and offers more calories per pound. Just keep in mind you’ll need boiling water in order to consume it.

Last but not least, consider storing over the counter medicine such as aspirin, antibiotic cream and so on (full list here).

Step 4: Communications

This is really easy to set up even if you live in a tiny apartment, because the device you need are small and cheap. So long as you have at least a couple of AM/FM radios, a few walkie-talkies and a portable Ham radio (such as those made by Yaesu and Baofeng)… and you’re good to go.

Oh, don’t forget to get a TV antenna. If the cable goes down, you’ll still want to watch TV and see what’s happening.

Step 5: Security

Securing your apartment is a lot cheaper than if you had a farm or a large house, right? The problem is, it’s much more exposed than if you lived in a small town. With so many neighbors, it’s hard to stay inside unnoticed for long periods of time.

When prepping for an apartment invasion, you only have a few points of entry to take care of. Your doors, windows and the access points to your building. Now, you obviously can’t reinforce the last two without all your neighbors seeing it, but you still need to be aware of all the places people (including you) can go in and out, and incorporate them into your evacuation and “get home” plans.

Step 6: Fitness

Going to a gym is something most city dwellers do. If you’re not doing it, I highly recommend you start going or, at the very least, start training at home. In addition, consider doing sports and spend more time in nature. The goal is not to be as good as a trained army officer, but to at least be able to run, hide and fend off attackers in an emergency.

Step 7: Bugging out and wrapping this up

Bugging out is obviously off-topic here, but you still have to worry about it AND take it seriously. Cities are never safe in large-scale disasters, and you only have to look at the ones in the Middle East, at the ones that have a high crime rate such as Detroit, Memphis or Calais in France.
Prepping is something you never stop doing, so once you’ve made progress with your basic emergency and bug in plans, I highly recommend you worry about the means to evacuate. You need one if not several bug out locations, you need a good (and possibly bulletproof) bug out vehicle, and you need as many ways out as possible.

About the Author:  Dan Stevens writes  Modern Survival Online You can find more of his articles here.

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  1. Some additional thoughts on a prepper’s apartment. Rent the most expensive apartment you can afford, you’re more likely to have better neighbors. Get a two bedroom unit for more storage space even if you only need one bedroom. Chose one with a balcony on the second floor facing south. A second floor unit is preferred over ground lever or higher units because they are harder to break into and are easy to escape from in an emergency. Install a rain gutter on the inside of the balcony railing with a solar panel to divert rain water into the gutter. A CB or Ham radio antenna can be hidden by covering it with artificial flowers and vines. Install a DIY wireless security system with a battery back up. While bugging in, devise a way to prevent the door to the apartment from being opened from the outside. Hang thick drapes on all windows to block any light from being seen from the out side. Hard wire you computer to your printer and modem, turn off wifi.

  2. Have apartment dwellers really considered the futility of their situation in the event of an EMP in the middle of winter? Apartment dwellers in the colder states could be forced out of their apartments within 24-48 hours after an EMP for the lack of TWO crucial things: 1) a way to stay warm, and 2) easy access to water. If you can’t heat your apartment and you can’t EASILY obtain water then you better be working on a bug-out plan right now because bugging out will be your only option. The same goes for non-apartment dwellers but non-apartment dwellers typically have more options when it comes to storage of fuel and water.

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