One of the most important things to consider in today’s society is safety for yourself and your family. For those living in an apartment, home security can be more challenging due to the close proximity of people living in the area as well as the greater likelihood of people coming and going frequently.
So, we’ve put together the categories to consider for best security practices for living in an apartment, pre and post collapse.
If you are already in an apartment and don’t have the resources to relocate right now, there are some things you can do to fortify your apartment against intruders and some hidden preps you can get into place without drawing too much attention to yourself. Any or all of the following things will help to make your apartment more secure in normal times.
Choosing Your Apartment
If you choose to live in an apartment, it’s critical that you do your research and choose an apartment that will be secure. Not everyone has the resources or the desire to live in a rural area.
But you can choose an apartment that will be safer for you both pre and post collapse if you consider the following things:
- How Safe the Neighborhood Is
- Gated Entrance to Community
- Locked Buildings that Utilize Access Control Through Intercom, Keycards, etc.
- Look for Well Maintained Buildings and Landscaping
- Talk to Current Residents for Insight
- Visit to Observe Activity at Various Times Weekdays and Weekends
- Population Density
- Choose apartment on 2nd floor or higher to deter intruders
- Select an apartment where you can have a guard dog
Talk to your Landlord or Property Manager about Your Concerns
Even though it might be an uncomfortable or awkward conversation, don’t be afraid to approach your landlord or property manager with clear and concise questions on this subject.
They are more likely to be cooperative if they know you are taking the necessary precautions to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.
If you live in government-subsidized housing, it’s especially important to reach out to your landlord or property manager so that they can be aware of any safety concerns and take steps to address them.
If you want to know what their plans and countermeasures are, if any, for dealing with fire, civil unrest, flooding or any other crisis, ask them. Ask about accident, burglary and police callout rates.
Talk to them about hypotheticals, and ask what, if any, situations are covered by the landlord’s insurance.
Might not know, but if you are talking to your landlord directly or a supervisor and they seem uncertain or hesitant- problem!
A lowly peon working for the property management company might not know, but if you are talking to your landlord directly or a supervisor and they seem uncertain or hesitant- problem!
That means it’s likely they don’t have a plan and you can’t count on them to take the necessary steps to protect you and yours.
Keep in mind, though, that your landlord is ultimately not responsible for your safety except where explicitly bound by law: You are. So be sure to also take some basic precautions yourself, like the ones we’ll discuss in the remainder of this article.
Fortify Against Unwanted Entry
No matter where you live or what your budget may be, there are many different best security practices for living in an apartment that can help to fortify against unwanted entry into your home.
One of the safest ways to fend off an attacker or intruder is not to let them get close to you in the first place. We’ve listed several ways you can fortify your apartment against unwanted intruders.
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- Reinforce locks on entry doors and windows with longer screws and security plates
- Consider shatterproof window film for any accessible windows
- Battery operated window and door alarms
- Master Lock Door Bars for inward swinging doors.
- Security Cameras
- Security Bars for sliding glass doors
- Consider self-monitored or professionally monitored alarm system
- Use a detachable rope ladder rather than a permanent fire escape
- Solar LED Motion Sensored lighting outside
- Keep key fob next to your bed at night, hit the alarm button to startle intruders if you hear something and then call police.
- Use door jams under doors to prevent them from being opened
Security System Considerations
Preppers have a smorgasbord of DIY security systems to choose from today, and ones complete with all the add-ons you could want.
Ring, Nest, Simply Safe, and other systems are modular and easily controlled by a smartphone or other device.
They provide real-time accessibility and monitoring of your apartment that are easy to use from anywhere, but the catch is that you are the one that must escalate any response to suspicious or unwanted activity.
That may be a good or bad thing, depending on your level of paranoia and comfort, but it definitely beats peeping out of the blinds!
That being said, these systems are the ideal way to shore up monitoring and burglar protection around your apartment- both from the bad guys and from your own ineptitude!
Sensors, smoke detectors and tiny cameras are easily and unobtrusively installed to cover your living spaces, balcony and windows alike.
After all, it’s one thing to remember to lock the door or set the alarm when you leave, but it’s another thing entirely to have someone (or in this case something) reminding you and checking up on things while you’re away.
Another option is to get in touch with your local locksmith or security company and have them set you up with an alarm system that is monitored by their staff.
This will give you the peace of mind knowing that there is always somebody paying attention to what’s happening on your property.
The downside, of course, is that it can be expensive and some systems might be more prone to false alarms than others.
Depending on the intricacy and invasiveness of the install you may or may not be allowed to do so under the terms of your lease.
Finally, if you are really looking to go all out, you could purchase a closed-circuit security camera system and monitor it yourself (or with the help of a friend or family member).
This type of system gives you total control over who has access to the system, but it is highly unlikely your landlord will allow you to install a traditional camera in any common areas outside your front door.
Know Your Neighbors
When you live in an apartment, your neighbors are all around you. To increase your own security, pay attention to the activity of your neighbors.
If you know your neighbors by name or at least by face and know who their adult children or friends are, you’ll be quicker to notice strangers in your building or complex. Take it further with some of the suggestions below and learn about your neighbors so you can be alerted to potential security problems:
- Make an effort to meet and be courteous to neighbors in your hallway and your building
- Pay attention to cars your neighbors drive, let them know if you see strangers around their vehicles.
- Form or join a neighborhood watch group for your building or complex
- Know which children belong in your building
- Be observant of regular comings and goings of your neighbors so you can be more aware when things are out of the ordinary
- Take note of any medical conditions of neighbors that may need intervention
- Be aware of which neighbors are prone to excessive drinking, drug use, or violence
Organizing with the Apartment Community for Mutual Defense
Starting a mutual assistance group, or MAG, with your fellow apartment dwellers is a great idea, be it in order to repel burglars or hordes of rampaging looters and anarchists.
It’s important to remember that, in most cases, the police will not be able to help in a situation like this and it will be up to you and any teammates to handle business, especially when the rule of law is tenuous or non-existent.
The first step is to identify who in your community is willing and able to help in a crisis.
This might include people with military or law enforcement backgrounds, those with medical training, or simply those who are physically fit and have some basic urban survival skills.
Once you have identified these people, it’s important to create a communications plan that will work in the event that cell phone towers or the internet are down (or simply overwhelmed).
This might include things like walkie talkies, signal flags, or even Morse code. Obviously, you’ll live close enough to each other that a “grapevine” relay system could be used or an agreed upon meeting place.
The next step is to create a mutual aid plan. This document should outline what each participant is willing and able to do in the event of an emergency.
For example, one person in the group might agree to provide food and water to others, while another might be responsible for defending the group’s perimeter or organizing the watch.
You can take this concept as far as you want with people who are motivated and willing. Group experts could even make the whole group better by giving impromptu classes in various skills.
It’s also important to designate an overall leader or board for the group. This doesn’t have to be a formal thing, but it’s important that someone is in charge of making hard decisions in times of crisis.
This person should also be responsible for maintaining communication with other mutual defense groups in the area (if any) and keeping an eye on the larger picture.
One thing to keep in mind when creating or joining a mutual assistance group is that it should never, ever become a gang.
This is not about taking advantage of others in a time of need, but working together for the common good. As such, it’s important to have clear rules and guidelines about how members should behave and what will happen if someone steps out of line.
Practicing Prepper Skills in an Apartment
The great thing about practicing prepper skills in an apartment is that, with a little ingenuity, you can do most of them without any extra equipment or supplies in total privacy.
One way to get started is by taking inventory of your living space and thinking about how you could use it to your advantage in the event of an emergency.
For example, if there is a room in your apartment that you don’t use often, or that has a door that can be easily barricaded, it might make a good makeshift safe room. Similarly, if you have a balcony or porch you can use it to grow nutritious or medicinal herbs and other plants in containers, no problem.
Now, certain outdoor-only skills will present a problem for apartment dwellers, like starting a fire or hunting and trapping small game, not to mention actually practicing with a weapon of any kind.
Some things will just harsh the vibe too much, and you don’t have the same rights in common areas that you would on a parcel you actually own!
But there are still plenty of ways to practice these skills in an apartment with some creativity. You might practice starting a fire the hard way in a community grill or firepit.
You can still safely perform dryfire practice with a firearm in your living space so long as you are highly diligent about safety protocols.
Fitness programs are a no-brainer, and no one will be the wiser to your prepping just because you are working out. Last but not least, get creative with storage!
If you can’t store food and supplies in your apartment, you can at least store the tools and materials necessary to start or make them.
One of the most challenging tasks for living in an apartment when you’re trying to stockpile is where to store all your preps.
Sure, you can utilize closets and cabinets, but you don’t want everyone who comes to visit to know you are loaded down with supplies. But there are many different creative ways to hide your preps in an apartment, sometimes almost in plain sight.
For example, you can stack canned vegetables in a rectangle or square shape, cover with a plywood or lightweight wood box slightly larger than your stack. Throw a sheet or material over the top and use as a coffee table in your living room.
To really dress things up, skip the material and DIY mosaic tile on the top and sides of the plywood box. Your guests will rave about your creative coffee table without ever even wondering what might be hidden beneath it.
Other suggestions for hidden preps include:
- Picture frame hidden cache
- Bookcase false back
- Hollowed out book cache
- False bottom ottoman or blanket chest
- Platform bed can become hidden storage underneath.
When SHTF, there’s no denying life is going to change quickly and in unpredictable ways. In any extended crisis situation, one of the most dangerous threats to your survival is going to be other people.
When you live in an apartment, the threat from people increases with the population density. If you’ve secured your apartment using some of the suggestions above, many of those will help to keep your apartment secure. In all honesty, an apartment in a heavily populated area is the last place you will want to be.
But post-collapse, for those who have limited options, there are some additional best security practices for living in an apartment you’ll need to implement, especially in situations where rule of law goes out the proverbial window.
Have an Evacuation Plan
One of the best security practices for living in an apartment is to have a bug out plan. Without a doubt, there will come a time when you will need to leave your apartment if you want to survive.
Regardless of the type of event, chaos will erupt eventually, especially if people realize that “help” is not coming. Whether you bug out to the woods (not a good idea), the home of a friend or relative, or a pre-planned bug out location will depend on your situation.
Part of your bug out planning when you live in an apartment should include knowing where the safe shelters are and how to get to them if needed.
Identify Area Resources
If you do find yourself with no other recourse than to ride out a SHTF situation in your apartment, you will need access to resources.
You can stockpile food and water but in an extended SHTF situation, that supply will run out.
Take the time during normal times to identify the nearest fresh water sources, and other places where you might find food and supplies.
Try to identify the places for supplies that most people may not think to look. Grocery stores and other retail stores will be quickly emptied out and will be more dangerous since there will be more people there.
Of course, you’ll want to double that with a solid urban survival kit so you can survive on your own fort weeks if not months in the city.
Secure Your Building, or At Least Your Floor
Work with likeminded neighbors in your building or at least on your floor to fortify it against intruders from the outside.
Have metal shutters installed outside if possible or have materials on hand such as as wire and plywood (pre-cut) so you can board up your windows from the inside post-collapse.
Consider barricading stairwells and using a rope ladder when needed to get in and out of your building.
If your building has fire escapes, pull the ladder up from the bottom and use a chain and lock to secure it so only those of you in the building can use it to get in and out.
None of these will guarantee no one can get inside but it will reduce the number of people who can get in easily.
Ramp up Self-Defense
Another of the best security practices for living in an apartment is to ramp up your self-defense training. You need to be prepared to defend yourself, your family, and your supplies frequently.
Be prepared to exit the apartment quickly if a group tries to smoke or burn you out of your apartment.
You also need to be prepared to defend yourself hand-to-hand in the event someone does breach your barricade and get into your flat. Personal security is even more important than apartment security.
Become a Gray Man/Woman
Another of the best security practices is to practice becoming a gray man/woman. The basic “gray man” concept is centered around blending in with your environment and the people around you. You can do things like:
- Practice adjusting your walking pace and your demeanor so it matches with those around you if you are in a crowd.
- Be alert to where you are and what is happening around you so you can get away from danger quickly. Observe any situation first from a distance to make sure you understand what is really going on.
- Don’t dress in tactical gear or wear gear that is obvious. Dress so that you blend in with those around you so you don’t draw attention to the fact that you are more prepared than anyone else.
- Use light blocking curtains to hide your activities inside the apartment
- Have something set up to diffuse or absorb smoke and odors when cooking inside the apartment
- … and more.
It bears repeating that although there are many apartment security best practices, that can help you survive, it is definitely NOT the ideal place to be in a SHTF situation.
If you don’t have access to family/friends or a bug out location outside of the city, identify several “safe” places within the city where you could hole up if you are forced to leave your apartment.
Consider places that other people wouldn’t normally be checking for supplies, such as a public library or a small office building.
But above all, take small steps toward making it possible to secure a bug out location or even to relocate outside of the city to at least th suburbs when it’s feasible.
Plan against Waste and Sanitation Services Disruption
Another of the best security practices for living in an apartment post-collapse is to have a plan or system to dispose of waste and keep things clean. Disease and illness will run rampant through the cities.
In order to avoid harm from other people and avoid attracting attention to your apartment, you will need to stay indoors as much as possible.
A trip to put garbage in the dumpster could spell disaster. And most of the dumpsters will be overflowing and become cesspools for disease carrying insects and rodents within a matter of weeks.
Plan to use a composting toilet to help prevent problems if you don’t have running water or if sewer systems fail. When you do have to venture out of your apartment, wear a mask to keep from inhaling toxic fumes and germs.
Are you currently living in an apartment? Do you have security practices in place that we missed here? Let us know in the comments below.
Born and raised in NE Ohio, with early memories that include grandpa teaching her to bait a hook and watching her mom, aunts, and grandmothers garden, sew, and can food, Megan is a true farm girl at heart.
For Megan, the 2003 blackout, the events of 911, and the increasing frequency of natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, spurred a desire to be more prepared. Soon to be living off-grid, this mother of four and grandmother of ten is learning everything she can about preparedness, survival, and homesteading.