Apartment Dweller Prepping- Part 2, by AKM295

When I relocated to the big city and moved into a shared apartment, I began to simultaneously look at prepping and consider how to make this work– living with others and trying to be prepared for a disaster.

What I’ve Learned From Experience (continued)

I’m writing about what I’ve learned over year’s of experience of living through power outages and disaster, including Hurricane Sandy. In covering topics for apartment dwellers, we have taken a look at storage, food, and water.


When I was moving out from my childhood home, I tried to figure out how I could get my 12 gauge, Mosin-Nagant, revolver, Glock, and accompanying ammo and kit to my new tiny apartment. According to everything I had seen, I needed to cover all of my bases to be well prepared. It wasn’t until I had everything laid out that I realized how ridiculous this was going to be for my situation.

I put everything, except the Glock, in the safe at the family home. In the event I would need to use my firearm in a defensive situation, I had it. If you are in an area where your 2nd Amendment rights aren’t restricted or you’ve jumped through the necessary hurdles to access them, my feeling is having a secured firearm is a great tool to have. I’m putting an emphasis on “secured”, especially so if you are living with roommates. If a firearm is out of the question, be sure to have a means to defend yourself. Whether you feel more comfortable with a baseball bat by the door or a can of pepper spray on your person, be sure to have a means to protect yourself, if need be.

Security and Situational Awareness

Aside from the security a gun in a nightstand can bring, be sure to put an emphasis on the little things like locking doors and windows and maintaining good situational awareness. I’ve used these everyday and been thankfully never to be in a situation where I needed anything more.

Security Section Summary: Be secure in your place and person by having a means to protect yourself and keeping your living space safe.


With even junk silver outside the reach of most recent graduates, financial security can be tricky. Tackling debt and bills takes priority to long-term security things like precious metals provide. When Hurricane Sandy hit and the power went out, all of a sudden cash was king. ATMs were inaccessible, and credit cards became useless pieces of plastic. This wasn’t a TEOTWAWKI situation where people were reduced to bartering or precious metals were in play as a new currency. The power was coming back soon, and people still needed the power to buy and sell.

A Financial Plan For What Feels Insurmountable

While many sources recommend keeping three months of living expenses in the bank for times of need, that can feel like a pretty insurmountable task to those who may not have a goose egg sitting in their savings accounts. And even if they have that money, if it is in the bank it’s difficult to access with the power out. Keeping cash on hand is a great way to be prepared for an emergency. If money is tight, start with an achievable goal. Try to save enough money in a month to put $50 aside for emergency use. Put it in an envelope and sock it away somewhere where it won’t get mixed up with grocery or fun money.  Then the next month, try again. Repeat during the following months, and when you can, try to save a little bit more here and there.

This system worked well for me and has been a lifesaver when the power goes out and I need to buy something locally. Some helpful advice I discovered was to keep some small bills on hand. During Sandy everyone seemed to have $20 bills floating around, but no one could break them.

Finances Section Summary: Keep cash on hand that is designated for use only in an emergency.


I would have loved a generator to keep things humming when the power went out. But with no money or way to store the generator or gasoline, this is another pipe dream that doesn’t help someone in an apartment. For those that have a car, an inverter and some extension cables can turn your car into a generator. But idling a car unsupervised on a street with 200 feet of extension cables running into an apartment building isn’t a realistic option. This is doubly so, if you don’t have a car, like many folks who live in a densely packed city.

My first instinct was to figure out how to power my fridge. The reality is this is a lost cause. The power demands were beyond what I was capable of fueling. During an emergency, I now look at my fridge as a giant cooler. Most of what I keep in the fridge or freezer will be good for 48 to 72 hours without worry. Minimizing opening and closing and adding extra insulation, like blankets, can help preserve the cold trapped inside.  If you have fresh or frozen food in the fridge or freezer, plan on eating it first before you break into your dry goods.

Energy for Cell Phone

I found my biggest need for energy during an emergency has always been my cell phone. It allows me to stay connected to friends, family, and emergency personnel. It also is a great source of information about what is happening near me. If I had to focus on one thing to power in an emergency it would be my phone. Having a portable cell phone charger that can charge your cell phone multiple times can be lifesaver. By minimizing your phone use and having access to one of these beefed up batteries, you can stay connected through most extended emergency situations.

Energy Section Summary: Have the means to charge your mobile device, such as a portable charger, so you can stay connected and informed.

Bug Out Bag

A grab and go, get out of dodge pack or bug out bag (B.O.B.) has got to be one of the founding pillars of the prepping pantheon. A quick search of “bug out bags” on YouTube yields 1.3 million plus results. Google yields 9.3 million results. There are all sorts of different takes on what you need and what you don’t need. It is incredibly easy to get lost in the woods with the volume of information available, not to mention all of the pre-made packs for sale that seem to be more sizzle than steak.

I can honestly say I had to stop and start over several times during my initial forays into putting together a bug out bag because I was second guessing nearly everything. One trusted source on YouTube would say this item is a must have and another respected blogger would say you don’t need to bother with it. It was classic “paralysis by analysis”. The “Ah-Ha!” moment for me was when someone simply said to think of your bug out bag as what you would personally need if you were going on a week long trip but might not be able to come home.

What Goes In A Bug Out Bag

A week’s worth of clothes and basic travel toiletries is a good start. Be sure to have any vital personal documents you use regularly (passport, social security card, birth certificate, et cetera) in one place so they can be packed in it on the fly. An extra cell phone charging cable or a portable charger dedicated to the bag is a great addition (and commonly forgotten during non-stressful times!). A way to entertain yourself and others, like a book, camp games like Farkle, or a deck of cards is a nice bonus.

Snacks like protein or candy bars can provide a boost of energy and some comfort in a pinch, while not taking up too much room. Storing your emergency cash in your B.O.B. means if you have to leave you have it with you. And from there you can fill out the rest, based on your specific needs or preferences.

Now, what I described is certainly a bug out bag, but it’s also the same packing list I have used for recent vacations and road trips. You don’t have a quest to find the perfect bug out bag. Just determine what will work for you and get it packed. Just having something ready to go puts you ahead of the pack.

Bug Out Bag Section Summary: Figure out what you would need for a week long trip and take along anything you feel you would need if you could not come back home.

See Also:

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

This has been part two of a two part entry for Round 74 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
  2. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
  3. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
  7. Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value), and
  8. American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.

Second Prize:

  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
  2. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  3. A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
  4. A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
  5. A Trekker IV™ Four-Person Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $250 value),
  6. A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
  7. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
  6. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).

Round 74 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.


  1. A great article, and thank you for having us look through your eyes. I agree it is easy to get lost in the information overload on just about everything related to prepping. I, and others, wish you well on your long journey.

  2. After a power outage, open the fridge once and take a photo. It will shorten the time the door is,opened the next number of times it’s opened. A small solar array with connectivity to your phone will keep you charged up. Good luck!

  3. In a grid down for unknown time you will have to have a firearm. Bad people will overcome a bat or pepper spray. You will not be able to defend yourself against multiple antagonists, don’t fool yourself. And if you try to barter yourself out of the situation they will probably take all you have.

  4. 1) I had assumed from your reference to Hurricane Sandy that you were in New York City –which strongly restricts firearms,esp handguns.
    2) But if legal, a concealable Glock is certainly valuable in urban areas
    3)However, one firearm that most places will accept is a lever action rifle like the old cowboy Winchester. Esp if you have a state hunting license.
    4) The lever action rifle is not a bad weapon for self-defense,esp in urban areas with strong firearm controls imposed on the population. It holds several rounds — the 44 magnum versions hold more than the 30 30 versions — and its magazine can be constantly topped off/reloaded rapidly while behind cover. Jeff Cooper noted its virtues.
    5) The lever action Has much greater range/accuracy than handguns although some people have pointed out that it is kinda hard to claim self-defense in today’s world if you shoot someone who’s 150 yards away–even when the situation justifies it.
    6) If your revolver is a 357 magnum then a lever action in the same caliber lets you use common ammo. Not an approach necessarily favored by people in the West with the long sight lines and limited cover –but not a bad setup in the NYC area.
    7) Some of Marlin’s lever action rifles use their Microgrove rifling. My understanding is that the traditional rifling –with its deeper cuts — is better for lead cast bullets. This could be a virtue if you can only store a limited ammo supply and would need to reload ammo with lead bullets from molds later (I believe wheel weights from auto tires have the antimony to harden lead bullets but double check on that.)
    8) Lever action rifles , of course, will work with cartridges reloaded with (the weaker) homemade gunpowder, unlike the semi-autos.

  5. On saving up cash, try this. Save up 20 of each denomination of bills. Start with $1’s, $5’s and $10’s. Then when those are done, exchange them for larger bills, and start over. Once your collection is complete, you now have $3720. Best to have 2 sets. One for disaster, and one as an ATM fund for life’s surprises.

    Another thing I do is keep 2 $100 bills hidden in my wallet as a “Get Home” fund. I learned that the hard way at 18. I got stranded in an ice storm, only had $20 in the wallet, and had to get a room for the night. Had to call home to get a credit card number to pay for the room. NEVER AGAIN! If I need this fund, it gets replaced immediately. Never go out without that fund being intact.

    1. Totally agree with this comment. In my nylon wallet I have one slot with my mainly-used credit card, a second slot with other secondary cards like health insurance, Costco, BlockBuster, etc. (Just kidding on BB). The third slot has my rarely pulled out permit to carry plus 2 $100 bills. You might you need the big cash for a hotel room like Nemo. But sometimes a big bill can help you. Remember cash does talk. If you’re in a situation where you REALLY need an item or service, and the seller balks at the $20 price, ask if they’ll take a $100 bill, hold it up. You’ve seen it in the movies where the hero offers $200 to the cab driver to get them somewhere fast. Never know, you may need that cash, better to have it and not need it, than the other way around.

  6. Good on you for being independent and responsible! Your article is a good counter to those folks who say…”I live in an apartment so I cannot store any emergency items.”

  7. For women, I think keeping a pair of walking shoes and socks in your go-bag or in the car is a good idea. Having the perfectly prepared BOB doesn’t help much if you’re wearing heels or flip flops.

    1. Heck, I throw boots in the car or truck when I am dressed for work meaning loafers or wingtips. The pack goes in when the destination is beyond 30 minutes drive time. Beyond an hour the extra food bag goes in too.

  8. good article, parts 1&2.
    K-tor makes a couple of hand crank generators, large and small, they work very well and are moderately priced. The small ones can almost fit in your pocket an is strictly hand crank, while the large can fold down and fit in your pack and can either be hand cranked or foot cranked. Both are very durable and well worth the money. if you have the know how during your next big city blackout you could possibly hook up a inverter to a car battery and as days go by use the large model to recharge the battery and get a little exercise and beat off some boredom all at the same time. Also Goal Zero has large assortment of different size solar panels some almost small enough to fit in your pocket to some as large as 3’x3′ and most can be daisy chained for more power. Good luck with your big city preps.

  9. I highly recommend the small bills as emergency cash. You will be in position of strength in the ability to make change or buy something for exact cash.

    I like the idea of two “C” notes for the big ticket items.

    I agree that having serious cash is the best option in emergencies.

    Now when I vacation I take one ounce of Au just in case. I have found that even the smallest towns have a coin shop

  10. Enjoyed the perspective of apartment preparation. You have put in alot of thought. A couple of suggestions. Having something for self defense is wise. But make sure you know and have practiced using it safely. One thing I do in case of power outage is have a large bottle (1/2 gal or bigger) of water frozen in the freezer. When the power goes out move it to the refregerator(then take the picture as suggested by Iggy above). It will help keep food cool for several days longer than otherwise. Great article!

  11. And Plan C – have a destination in mind already figured out if you have to bug out. Because clear thought on where to go and routes demand prior planning too.

    Great pair of articles – thank you for writing them.

  12. A small safe bolted down(fill the holes when you leave) foryour valuables,a old(throwaway) 12 ga double barreled or pump shotgun would pass in any jurisdiction(jury trial). A crank powered flashlight with a usb port can recharge your phone(make sure you keep the cord with it,if you get a double ended cord you can get someone else to turn the crank to charge both phones). Life straw or 1 liter sawyer bottle and a couple of coffee filters for water. If you need to buy something and they can’t make change a group buy(2-3 people in line) can get it purchased and split the change. A good pair of properly broken in boots some beef jerky,granola bars or trailmix and you can survive most anything or exfil to bug out location.

  13. A small solar panel, deep cycle battery and a small inverter (about 60 watts) will provide power for 120v LED lights and most have a USB port to charge a phone or tablet from. Items to be powered up should be selected for minimum current draw.

Comments are closed.