Friday, April 6, 2012

Apartment survival

I wrote this long ago( 2007) and figured it may help some. Enjoy.

Choosing your apartment!

Yes just like a home you have to shop for one. There are many factors that go into choosing a complex, just like a home ,area and location . The best bet once you find one you like is to see how they are set up. The easiest way is to walk a unit. Most places do this anyway as part of their "sales" routine. Ask questions. While most leasing agents are nothing but A/C sponges you can get good info out of them! Ask questions about the area, but be sly about it. There are laws that permit them from telling you exactly if the property is " loud" full of crime etc. So use your best fishing techniques here. This will help you get some vital Intel on the AO. For example, ask the agent if they live on property. Better yet ask if they have 24 hour emergency maintenance, what is their response time? The agent may say " fast ,since they ALL live in sight.." . this will help later on!

Now you must also ask about the apartment itself. What kind appliances gas or electric. IMHO gas is the better way to go, and ill explain why. If there is a power outage you will still have Hot h20 and be able to cook! Now this may vary from each complex, But the H20 heaters are run purely on gas, the stoves gas/electric. This means you'll have to light the stove by hand each time, no big issue at all! There is a downfall to this ill touch on later.

You also want to ask about the building construction. The agent may not know, but you can ask that they get you in contact with a maint. tech to help you. If you can get the tech alone even better. This is one more person you can fish info out of. Most techs I've worked with will talk, because we are a disgruntled breed Just ask basics, like whats the building made out of , wood or metal studs? sub floors or solid concrete? You get the idea, and always, always read your lease!!!

Few last things on choosing one. Call the local PD and get a crime report on the AO, this will help locate problem areas not only at the complex but surrounding areas. Ask for one every few months and make a map. This will give you the "trouble" areas to stay away from now and during an EVENT. Make sure the unit you pick is in a good area of the complex. I prefer bottom floors. They are easy to move in and out of, and if its a major event it gives you some over head protection. They have their downfalls though, and like the appliances ill explain more later on.

outfitting your apartment

There are many ways you can do this. But unlike a true BOL you can only do so much. In all honesty, an apartment is not a long term event housing option. But for most of what we will be dealt it will do fine.
Security.

This is the first item to check. You've hopefully already done the AO back ground check's, and did some hands on Intel such as riding the property at night,walking it on foot and driving through the surrounding areas. Once your moved in purchase some window locks. These can be as simple as thumb locks or bars. If the window design is a certain way they make Plexiglas window stops. I like these as you can place them in the corners and they are not seen as easily as a thumb lock or bar. You then want to put a lock on the front door. DO NOT get the chain set ups. These are worth less! If you get any type of door bar set up. get a full bar or the style that most hotels have these days. Make sure that when you secure it to the frame you use long enough screws( 3 inch) so you can get into the door frame itself and the studs that box it in. The screws supplied will only grasp the trim, and that rips off with little force. These items are more for "feel" good security and wont stop a person wanting to get inside. They may however give you those few seconds needed to arm and protect yourself and family, and call for help!

If you do own firearms, you'll want to have a safe. I feel that larger bolt down safes are not needed . They are to large, heavy and draw unwanted eyes when being unloaded and installed. The basic stack on/wall locker style will work or a smaller "real" safe will do fine. Secure it anyway you can to the walls,floor etc. Just remember you are renting so do not damage the walls and floor to much. You may get charged later on. Once your safe/locker is installed pick a time to move your firearms over. This is where you do not want the world seeing what you have. On my recent move i unloaded all my ammo the day before. I then chose to move my firearms over at night. Even then i chose to bring them in 1-2 at a time in a over seas bag. Watch your surroundings. Even though it is dark, check to make sure that nosey neighbor isn't looking or worse any "thugs".
Well now we have your firearms in place, some basic simple security items installed, now what?
The items i said to install are just examples. There are MANY MANY ways to secure your unit and not draw unwanted attention.

Getting your preps

If you are just getting started, it may seem like a big task. It really is not that bad. You must stick to basics, food,water,shelter. While you have a roof over your head it may be wise to get a BOB and a PLAN started in case there is a long term event.
Until then, start preparing your unit. There are many times where you have limited space. While i agree that you can use buckets as your bed post, table legs etc. I do not feel this needs to be done.

Water, is the most basic item you need to have, and one a lot ask how to store when renting. I feel that for short term events that the renter should invest in some 15 gallon water barrels and a few good 5-7 gallon jugs. These are large enough that even if you make it out with only one, you will still have basic water needs for one person for 5-12 days. They are small enough that you can BO with them with out the need for a dolly or 3 sets of hands!

You can store water in many ways. Water barrels and jugs being the easiest, then 12-16oz water bottles by the case. The case water needs to be rotated every 1-2 years. This is not a big issue, but 6 months of bottled h20, takes up twice as much room as 1-3 water barrels! The best bet, in my eyes is to mix it up What i have is 50+ gallons of bulk water, and one to two cases of bottled water. The bottles are always used first, in a short term event, the bulk water later on. These can be slid under beds,couches etc. Use your imagination, stuff it where it can go!

You will read that you can get h20 from your hot h20 heater. DO NOT depend on this source for water. In most apartments the heaters are hard to get to. You will also need to shut off the incoming h20 before the event or during so it is not contaminated. The major downfall is that these heaters are not New! You may not be able to turn off the h20 all the way, resulting in a flood. The drain valve may not work at all or be clogged shut. It may also leak. Combined with a bad shut off your gonna have water issues for sure! So DO not rely on them as a 100% source.. Shut off the incoming h20. Then use the h20 in there as a last resort. It would also be wise to treat and filter it once you get to using it!

Make sure you have a means of filtration and treatment. I stock on hand for cleaning and for my h20 2 gallons of unscented bleach. I also have on hand several filters ranging from a basic survival straw to a hand pump backpacking filter. Once moved in do some searching to find the nearest natural water source. That canal or creek may save you one day!


Food

For the apartment my advice is to stock what you eat, and then some. As I said above apartment living is not for long term, events. That doesn’t mean you can not stock like it though. When you stock your food, buy items that you will eat. Make sure that they have a shelf life of 1-3 yrs. Most can goods have this. This way every 1-2 yrs you can rotate. This helps on your food bill and keeps you up on your food inventory. Your basic food stocks should last you at least 2 weeks before you have to dive into your stocks. If planned right you can combine the two on a rotation . Doing so keeps you stocked with fresh items year round. If you are serious about living this lifestyle you may opt to store food items the way you would for long term. This is fine to do also. This means that you’ve stocked once and let it ride! The main issue though when stocking food items this way is space. A six months supply of just rice alone will take up a lot of space and weight- something to remember if you are on the 2nd floor or higher.
With food comes the means to cook it. If your apartment has that gas range it is an easy no brain er to continue cooking as normal. I would suggest that you do purchase some sort of alternate means to cook. Be it a small camping propane stove or a dual fuel Coleman stove. This way, if gas lines are damaged you may still be able to cook your food and boil water. A few basic cooking items to have , which can be part of your normal kitchenware are these. Cast iron skillets and pots are rugged indoor and outdoor items. Money is well spent here as once you get a dedicated BOL or move you have a complete ready to go set. A stainless steel pot, these can be used to boil rice, steam veggies, boil large amounts of water. If your near the ocean or rivers you know a little crab/mud bug boil would hit the spot! A basic set of knives and utensils is a must. Buy decent quality stuff. If your budget is tight, hit up your local thrift stores, Ive found PLENTY of event gadgets and tools on the cheap there. Ranging from dehydrators, to grinders to knives!


Odds and Ends

Now that you have your basic water and food stored now what? I'm going to go over a few items and ideas that may help out a new comer or an apartment dweller. During an event you are going to want to be as informed about your AO as you can. This is just not listening to the radio or patrolling at night with those Gen 1’s you got from SG. As soon as an event happens make sure you make contact with your property manager. While some events wont warrant this, most that we will encounter will. You will want to notify them that you are alive, the amount of damage to your unit and what plans you have.
This way your covered, and so are they. This is where as a renter you want to know your states land lord tenant laws and the exact wording of your lease. One way to ensure that your covered can be to purchase renter insurance . While not perfect it may help recoup any cost from having to replace damaged items.
Know your neighbors. Even if you do not like them at least meet them. While you may form bonds during an event, I would suggest that you meet them before. Neighbors at a apartment complex are a good source of Intel on what is going on. It may be simple gossip but it may give heads up on what the management is doing. Like I mentioned earlier techs and leasing agents will let folks know at times what is going to happen before the higher ups do. Get to know the techs at your complex. During an event they may be able to help you out. Not just with repairs but with info, parts, and favors and tools. While all these means are not perfect they can give you that little extra time to get a hold of the situation.

A Plan

You must have a plan. No matter the event if you plan to prep you must have some sort of a plan. Living in an apartment makes this even more of a vital link to your survival.
Apartment dwelling and long term survival is like oil and water. It will not happen with out a whole lot of shaking! While you make the best of your apartment life, work on a better plan. This may include networking, with other like minded folks. Joining a group or moving to a better suited location that fits your needs. No plan is perfect, but make one that fits your needs, not mine or anyone Else's. Even the simple task of choosing your apartment should be part of your plan. Remember up above, when I said bottoms floors. You have two roofs to go through to get to you. Be it rain, wind, floods, and Radiation! Remember location, are you out of a flood zone, farther inland away from surge areas, closer proximity to main highways and roads that may help you escape the urban areas come an event!
Get a BOB. yes as an apartment dweller your gonna need one.

Stuff

Below is a list of stuff that I feel a renter should have on hand. These can also be used in your home or BOL.

Basic tool set – sockets, wrench’s, screw drivers, razor knife etc
Hammer- 20 oz + do not get a 16oz
Duct tape
Plastic sheeting
Drywall screws
Nails- finish and framing
5 gallon bucket
hand saw
hack saw
cordless drill with 2 batteries
extension cord
sewing kit
FAK- first aid kit
Rope-50ft
toilet plunger or auger


This is a very basic list. But can fix most of anything you may need to during an event. This is also where networking with the techs come sin handy. You may need an extra roll of tape. Trust me when I say that during an event like a hurricane. If a tech can hand you the tape, plastic and such and you perform the work while he goes to more important repairs he will be a happy camper! You then make out with some extra stuff to repair your place.



Where does that go

Where do you put all this stuff? Well sometimes you will not be renting a 2800sq foot wonder unit, so what do you do? There are many ways for you to store stuff in your unit.
For example. I have a small linen type closet in my computer room. Inside this closet is some preps. They include 5 gallons or Coleman fuel, 2 gallons of lamp oil, 5 small oil lamps, rubber maid container with batteries, a basic FAK kit, 30lbs of rice, 10 lbs of elbow noodles, extension cord, extra door and window locks, angle grinder, battery charger and some paint. This closet is 6 ft tall , 12-15 inches deep and 2ft wide. Ive shoved a lot into it for a reason, to hide it. That may seem silly, but my old place didn’t have closet’s like this one. You would have seen that stuff sitting on my bedroom floor!
This same room has a 6x6 walk in. Inside here I have my bulk water storage, bulk ammo storage. And 9 large rubber maid totes containing everything from family camping gear to my grab and go totes. There is also some other items in there that take up the shelves at head level. I’m lucky to have these now. But before I ad one 2ft deep by 7 ft closet to fit all my preps.! My unit looks like a mini bass pro shops store. Fishing and outdoor painting on the walls, and that sort of decor. The reason being is that when i have company over and they happen to peek into a room or such or see a prep item it doesn’t shock them. They can walk in see my backpack( BOB) and figure out I hike/hunt. Those antique oil lamps are preps but they sit on my dresser in my bedroom. Do you see what I am getting at ? While outta sight outta mind works. Sometimes when you have limited space you have to incorporate preps into your home d├ęcor! Funny isn’t it!



Protecting yourself and unit during and after an event

I touched on some ways to secure your unit earlier, but how do you protect it. There are many way a renter can protect his unit and its contents. During events it is crucial that if you BO you protect what is yours. This is pretty hard if you are not there, but with short term events you can take measures. Renters insurance is a cheap way to protect belongings, or at least replace them after an event. I don’t trust this really but it is a means of protection. The best way to protect your unit is by protecting yourself and having a plan. If you decide to Bug in, it is really event dependant on how far you go to protect your unit. In most cases you will be protecting your self from the environment and criminal’s . This is a time when your preps will pay off along with that Intel you hopefully did before moving in. By having your preps you will not have to leave your dwelling, unless of course its destroyed. This way you can limit contact with the criminals and other hostile folks after and during an event. Trust me they are there, and it wont be your typical thug, it may very well be that farther of 4 or the soccer mom that is having a mental breakdown because they have had no power for 4 days!

Your now bugged in. If the weather and event warrant it I would take measures to harden your unit. This is hard to do since you don’t own it. But you can plan ahead. You can pre cut and store ply wood under your bed’s and couches. These pieces can then be placed over your windows. I would suggest for protection that its ¾’s the size of the window. This way you can open the window yet still have air flow. You can also drill 1 inch holes in the wood and make it a full sheet. This way light and air pass through. Make sure you secure them good. Use 2.5 or 3 inch screws or lag bolts. This is where asking the techs and such what the units are constructed of ! While this is not a perfect set up it will help you stay a Lil more secure than just glass! This is also where your firearms may come into play. While i feel that in an event you should be armed . When living in an apartment and in short term events make sure you are 100% of your local laws on self defense and use of a firearm. Watch your back and do not flaunt your well doing in front of folks. This is hard to do at times. We prep hard and are proud that we are doing well while others suffer. Don’t flaunt your fancy cooking on your porch while others are hungry or haven’t had a hot meal in days. Watch what you say in front of passers by and coworkers. If the event does last more than a few days or weeks, you wont be able to trust many folks around you! This is where a Plan to BO comes into play and why I feel that apartments are not for long term!

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