If you live in an apartment and want to prepare for a disaster, you may feel overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done and space with which you have to work. Things like alternate power, water and food sources and storage may all seem impossible.
Don’t let this dissuade you; the most important thing you can do is get started. Even if you live in a small apartment, there is always a way to prepare, regardless of your space or lack thereof. Just focus on the basics.
To Get You Started:
- The basics. You need food and water, so let’s focus on those first. Each time you go grocery shopping, pick up an extra gallon or two of water, extra cans of food that you and your family like. You need approximately one gallon of water per person per day. Store foods that don’t need to be cooked: canned pasta, tuna, chicken, canned fruit, vegetables, cereal, granola bars, protein bars, etc. If you have a baby, make sure you pick up extra formula/baby food. A good starting point is, at least, a two-week supply of food and water.
- Have on hand enough toilet paper and other sanitary items (baby wipes, diapers, trash bags, female sanitary products, etc) to last for two weeks. Toilet paper and/or baby wipes are a necessity. Buy some paper plates, cups, and plastic utensils, so you don’t have to use your precious water to clean your dishes.
- Build a first aid kit or buy one pre-assembled. There are several available, make sure you get one that compliments the size and needs of your household. Add medications and prescription medicines your family needs and regularly uses.
- Stash emergency cash in the event you are unable to use ATMs and credit/debit cards. Stash an amount you think you and your family would need for a couple weeks. Start with just $10-$20, and keep adding whatever you can to it.
- Grab some battery-powered flashlights and radios and extra batteries. Store them in a place easy to access in case the power goes out.
- If you are short on space, get creative with storage. Store your cache in closets, under beds, behind and under the couch. Keep track of what gets stored where so nothing gets forgotten and to make it easier to locate when needed.
- Make copies of all important documents: license/IDs, deeds, titles, registrations, bank statements, etc and keep the paper copies in a binder along with a thumb drive with a digital copy of the same. It’s good practice to keep an identical binder in a separate area, just to be safe.
This list is to get you going, the first steps to take to get started. Once you have some gear and supplies stored, you will be encouraged by the feeling of security you get knowing that you are taking the proper steps to preparing yourself and your family.
The most obvious aspect of being prepared is the gathering of gear and supplies. But that is not all there is to it. The following items are also very important and should not be bypassed in favor of the more exciting activities of buying supplies and cool, new gear. Best part, the following are free.
1. Take a close inventory of everything you already have in terms of supplies. Get a notebook and keep track of all your hiding places and what is stored in them. If you use a computer program, like Excel, for example, be sure to print out a hard copy after each inventory update in case of power failure. Separate your items into categories:
- Water – 6 gals. Hall Closet, 4 gals. Under Kitchen Sink, etc
- Food – 24 cans Hall Closet, 12 cans Baby Formula Under Master Bed, etc
- First Aid – 1 Large Kit Hall Closet, 1 Small Kit Under Each Bed, etc
- Lighting – 2 Flashlights Kitchen Junk Drawer, 1 in Each Bedroom’s Nightstand, 1 Lantern Bathroom Closet, etc
- Cooking backup – 1 Alcohol Stove In Pantry, 4 Boxes Matches Kitchen Drawer, 6 Bic Lighters in Pantry, etc
- Safety/Defense – 12 gauge Shotgun Under Master Bed, 9mm Handgun Hall Closet, Extendable Baton in Vase By Front Door, etc
- Communications – 2 Way Radios in Hall Closet, 2 Solar Cell Phone Chargers in Entryway Table Drawer, 1 Emergency Radio Hall Closet, etc
- Bug-Out-Bag – 1 in Each Bedroom Closet, 1 Four Person in Hall Closet, etc
- Cash – Rice Box Top Shelf of Pantry, Shave Cream Safe in Hall Bathroom, Envelope between Bible and Moby Dick Living Room Bookshelf, etc
This inventory notebook or printout is obviously something you don’t want to leave around for the world to see. Keep it safe and out of public sight.
You might realize you are already well prepared in one area, but lacking in others. How many days of water do you have on hand? What means of water purification do you have? How much ammo do you have? Do you have more than one can opener? This is not an all-inclusive list by any means but it should get you thinking about where you are, so you can continue your progress.
2. Make a backup of all important phone numbers and addresses both online, to the cloud, and a paper backup. Most of us rely on our cell phones to look up phone numbers these days, including our closest friends and even family members. But what if you suddenly can’t access your phone’s contact list? Update your backup lists at least every six months. Make it routine: New Years Day, Independence Day, your birthday or any dates that are easy to remember.
3. Make a detailed family emergency plan. This will involve some information gathering and planning. Know your spouse’s schedule, as well as the kids’ school schedules. Find out your workplace and/or schools’ emergency plans. If an emergency happens while everyone is at work and school, plan out who will pick up whom and where you all will meet. Write down and post the plan on your kitchen bulletin board or refrigerator within easy reach of all household members.
4. Learn one preparedness skill every month. Start with the basics like water purification, fire starting, etc. Many of these skills can be learned through books or Googling for a tutorial video.
5. Evaluate the current security of your apartment. Go outside your apartment door, and then the building on a random day and look for weaknesses. Are any windows visible from the street? Can anyone see your belongings inside? If someone knocks on the door, will one of your children open it without checking with an adult? It is never too early to teach kids to be wary of strangers. Gather the family together and discuss safety and security plans.
After you get around storage and logistics, prepping in a large home or small apartment will be very similar and depending on the scenario, you may even be safer in an apartment building.