Emergency PreparednessProtect Your Home

Emergency Preparedness for Apartment Dwellers

I’ve talked to people who aren’t preppers who feel that in the event of an environmental or social disaster, the city is the best place to be. There are differing opinions on this, of course, and it is likely that any city is where resources will be concentrated to get things back on-line. However, in the city there are also hundreds of thousands of other issues to contend with. We’re talking about other people.

Some people enjoy living in apartments while others feel that they may have no choice because of the relative affordability of apartments. Whatever your case is, emergency preparedness for apartment dwellers definitely takes some unique planning. Here are some things to think about to help you be prepared as possible if you are an apartment dweller.

Think about saving space.

No matter where you live, you should have the minimum recommended 72-hour supply of food and water. Since your space is limited, invest in water in cube-shaped jugs that can be stacked. These space-saving water jugs are cubes that can be stacked to save space. Store your food in 5 gallon buckets that can be stacked, or choose the high-calorie ration bars that also stack and that don’t take up much space.

Stock up.

Try to make sure that you’re never without some basic items such as toilet paper and toiletries, trash bags, paper plates and things like batteries. It’s a good feeling to know that what you have on hand will not quickly run out. We’re not talking about hoarding items here, because space is a consideration, but it’s best to not say to yourself, ‘Oh, I’ll get more next time I go to the store.” Always make sure you have back-ups by buying a second item whenever you start using the first one.

What will you do if the plumbing doesn’t work?

Hygiene will be a problem in any situation, but particularly in a building with potentially hundreds of other people when the plumbing and sewer system is no longer functional.

Can you keep others out?

Are your doors and windows secure? Do you have ammunition? If you don’t have firearms do you have other weapons that are accessible? The biggest problem will be defending your turf if you decide to stick it out and stay.

Know your neighbors.

Scope out your neighbors and see if there are other people in the building you might get along with and be able to share resources with. Sometimes in an apartment situation you want to be left alone, but if there is one other compatible person there, you can get by much easier than you might if you were alone. See what gear they have, what you might be able to borrow, and also what you might be able to let them use. Can you get to their apartment without going through the main entrance? Even better. If you find a trusted neighbor, perhaps the two of you should go in on a pair of walkie talkies so you can communicate in an emergency.

Get to know the handyman.

Maybe you never gave much thought to the guy who keeps the place in order because you don’t have a leaky roof or stove that needs fixed. Emergency planning might be a good reason to strike up a conversation. If you can make friends, he or she is likely to have resources at their disposal that you would not know about, such as access to storage sheds that could be safe places, access to the water tanks, keys to empty apartments, and things like that. Who knows, maybe that handyman or superintendent is a prepper too.

Can you get out?

You may want to stay in your apartment as long as you can. But when the time comes that you want to leave, will you just walk down the stairwell? Consider ways that you might get out through your window, such as having a fire escape ladder that you can hang from the sill.

Where will you go?

If you live in the city, consider where you will go if you truly do have to leave. If you have friends or family that live in a place that might be safer, make sure to let them know that you will head to their place in the event of an emergency. You don’t want to get shot by your Aunt Martha because you’re banging on her door at 3 in the morning and she isn’t expecting you.

What’s nearby?

If there’s a school, hospital or police station nearby, make note. That could be a safe destination until you can figure out what else to do.

Stock up your car. 

You likely have a trunk where you can keep emergency supplies. Make sure you keep a car kit in case something happens while you’re out of town or at work, and keep some extra items in there such as a change of clothes, along with a backpack or other way to carry them.

Emergency preparedness for apartment dwellers is not terribly different than what people who live in suburban homes might do, with the exception that apartment dwellers probably won’t have an escape pod in their backyard or a shed full of 30-year shelf life food. With less space and neighbors all in the same situation being the primary issues with emergency preparedness in apartments, look around your neighborhood and see how you can make the most of your particular situation. Leave your advice for others in the comments.

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Mark James

Mark James

Mark James lives with his family in Western Oregon, the area that Oregon's FEMA director said "will be toast" in the event of a Cascadian earthquake. He hopes to share information to help others protect themselves and their loved ones.

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