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Danm

Alternatives For the urban apartment dwelling prepper

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Alternatives For the urban apartment dwelling prepper

 

Ok, not everyone lives in the suburbs or out in the country like I do. Nonetheless there are still things that you can do to prepare…you just have to be a little more creative.

 

Thought number one…food supplies…Those of us with the space can garden and that will provide us with a little extra padding in the food area but even there this suggestion is worthwhile.

 

Plant on public lands and areas. In wooded parks and even in roadside areas there is a lot of space where you can plant. I know, you are thinking that everyone will see it and get it. That’s true if you plant above ground plants. Everyone knows what a tomato or other fruit bearing plants look like. How many of you would recognize a potato plant, yam, sweet potato or peanut plant if it was not done in rows like a crop?

 

These are all massivly good producers that require little in the way of care and most people would never know that they were standing in your firld if you just planted alongside ditches or streams and peanuts do great in sandy soil so you can do it along a lot of walking paths.

 

In the spring put a little spade and your seeds and sets in a back pack and plant where nobody can see you. The woods behind my house are full of little patches because in tough times I will probably have to stand guard over my garden or loose it to thieves.

 

I’m sure that others of you can think of other crops that people wouldn’t notice…onions and garlic, mint and most herbs are just weeds to most. Be creative and think outside the normal path.

 

Water is a MUST. They make a thing that you put in your tub that is a bag and will hold a LOT of water. As soon as the power goes off fill it and every other thing you have. Folding water bags store easily and fill in a hurry. When the power goes off the water in the towers will last for a little while and if you plan ahead you can get it before it is gone. Most won’t think about it in time.

 

Swimming pools are a pretty good water source. The chemicals are already in it and if you will bottle it and let it sit in the sun for 6 hours before you seal it the chlorine will evaporate and the UV will finish the job for you…I know, people pee in pools!!! Urine is sterile drink the pool water and leave the ditch water the hell alone. Filter it if you can but if you can’t it is probably your best bet.

 

Most cities, at least in the South, are just chock full of critters. You don’t have to have a deer or rabbit or squirrel, any animal will do to make soup better. By a sling shot practice with it and you will always be able to knock a bird over. Pigeons are good and the city squirrels are actually really easy. That is what I used to trap with rat traps. Those were the BEST squirrels EVER. They were grain fed and super fat! A lot of you won’t like hearing this but dogs and cats are good eating AND you are killing off a competitor for the other animal food sources available.

 

I live in the country and city people are always dumping their unwanted dogs out here. I don’t know what they are thinking. Dogs can’t live without people and feral dogs are a real problem. They don’t generally live long and their short life is one of pure misery. I guess wolves and coyotes know what to eat to kill the worms but the dogs don’t and they get so wormy their gums turn white because they are anemic. As soon as the balloon goes up use the strays for food. You are doing them a favor.

 

Once things settle a little bit you will want to move out into the country. The cities will be death traps!!! Without flowing water the sewage systems will stop and the old killers from the past will return in force. Typhoid, dysentery, all the old diseases that people these days never think about will return. Also without water the fires will start and just never end. Sadly most of these will be set fires and you want to be gone before that if you can.

 

When you move out into the country you will need to be real straight forward. If you come sneaking around my place you may end up as pig chow and fertilizer. You have something to offer but it will be a buyers market. Those that have a place will eventually need help. One small family can’t work the land all day and guard it all night. You are offering your skills and labor for admittance to their group. Pick out several special skills and LEARN them. There won’t be much call for middle managers, accountants or supervisory personnel but someone that KNOWS about tannin and working in leather and has the specialized tools for doing it will be valuable.

 

Being good with your hands will be worthwhile and most of the primitive skills are worth at least being a little familiar with. Also you might think about what will be valuable and stock pile it. Cheap things like hooks, needles and thread will become precious FAST as people start using and losing them. Specialized tools like drawknives, crook knives and such are dirt cheap when you can find them in flea markets. Learn how to sharpen a saw. Know how to sharpen a knife, ax, hatchet etc. You don’t need the entire tool a lot of times. Hoes, axes and such can be carried without handles and then used like money or rehafted or handles later. A box of wedges would be wonderful trade material for a while until someone got a smithy set up.

 

Guns are great but shooting one advertises that you are around and that you have something worth stealing. Wooden and fiberglass target bows, spears and slingshots work fine for hunting small critters. They are almost free at garage sales and are easy to master for up close things. Remember the dogs and cats? Well goats, sheep and chickens are pretty easy to sneak up on too. Most domesticated animals won’t be hard to catch so play with a bolo a little and gather them alive for eating later.

 

Among your most important tools if you are an urban survivalist is a big ole heavy pry bar and maybe a sledge hammer. When you want in someplace you want in FAST! I have several different kinds and it is mostly a matter of how much you have to spend. Get the best that you can afford. There is nothing more useless than a cheap pry bar that is either too soft to be any good or too hard and brittle so it breaks on you. Do a little reading and learn about tempering and every truck has a gold mine in spring steel under it. Anneal it shape it then re-temper it according to your needs. The only special tool you will need is a magnet. (Steel becomes nonmagnetic at the right temperature for tempering.)

 

Good flashlights will be important. Without power a building becomes just a big cave. Take the time now to find out where civil defense shelters were or are. Back in the 60s and 70s all cities had these cashes and most likely they are still there. They will be underground and in out of the way places. I know where three are in my old hometown. They are long forgotten but still worth scrounging.

 

You might think about looking around for an older couple that live out and alone and see if they would let you help them with their garden for a share. This will teach you a lot because old people are the last reservoirs of the old ways and stuff. Then if things go bad you will probably be a welcome sight for them. Remember you plant your seeds today for harvest down the road. Cultivate people and friendships now because later people will be a lot less trusting.

 

I’m sure those of you that live in urban setting have a lot of other ideas.

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I don't usually say something as cut and dried as I am about to write but I think that long term survival is simply not possible in an urban environment. You can bug in for a while, waiting out the die off if it is TEOTWAWKI or waiting for the government to get there if it is a SHTF event, but for the long term, the urban area is simply not suitable for extended survival. History shows that cities only develop when farming allows the country to support the urban area. If the farms aren't sending in produce, cities die. History has that lesson over and over again. We ignore it at our peril.

 

The suburban area has more options for longer term, but recognize your limits. If it is TEOTWAWKI, the city is a place to make foraging trips (think armed reconnaissance) for supplies but you can NOT support a modern city without modern infrastructure. Small towns, maybe, but cities? I'm afraid not. That leaves the city dweller with the option to plan to GOOD to a BOL or to Bug In until after it is safe to leave. Either can be made to work and each has advantages and disadvantages but I think long term survival in a city is simply not realistically doable.

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I would like to add that people should be careful in choosing their secret planting spots around urban/suburban areas due to possible soil pollutants and insecticides/lawn treatments.

 

I would also have to agree with Capt Bart about the temporary aspect. Things will deteriorate at such a fast rate due to population in most of those areas. Once food stocks are gone people will turn to hunting as you suggested, but they will over hunt to the ten millionth degree, so it won't last long. Not to mention most people don't know the first thing about processing a kill so most of it will go to waste.

 

 

The water bag that Danm referred to is; http://www.cheaperthandirt.com/CAMP205-1.html

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Living in a big city, I agree that it's a poor choice for the long term, but I do not have the resources to set up a BOL elsewhere. I simply do not make enough money to buy land and build a shelter. Land in Florida is outrageously expensive, even in the middle of a swamp, and the population densities around here mean I wouldn't be hustling to a regional BOL, I'd be migrating to another state entirely. Which means moving north along with thousands (or more) of people with the same idea. This, to me, is not safer than a discrete and well stocked home shelter.

 

There are a lot of resources in a big city (notice how someone suggested going into the city to scavenge for supplies), and it doesn't take much to supply two people for a long time. You just have to be careful, quiet, and smart. Combine intelligent resource gathering with careful preparation and you could stay in a big city for a long time. Of course, 'long time' is a very subjective term - it could mean 3-4 years to me, and 20+ years to someone else.

 

I prep for short term disaster (5 weeks worth of a post CAT 5 hurricane scenario), and I'm an apartment dweller. If the world as we know it truly collapses, I will probably stay as long as I can, given my supplies and my ability to gather more. If supply begins to get low, I'd assess the options that remain to me (for a destination) and then relocate using whatever transportation I can scrounge up. I have a reliable truck, a pair of ATB bicycles, and good hiking gear. There are more than forty marinas within 20 miles of my home, as well as other places I might find a small boat. But before that comes to pass, I have to survive to TEOTWAWKI...which means prepping my apartment, rather than a BOL.

 

EDIT: I think the key distinction here is 'long term a big city cannot survive without infrastructure'. After TEOTWAWKI, it's no longer a big city, it's a big ruin - and small groups could survive in those ruins for a long time.

Edited by survivalcyclist

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Living in a big city, I agree that it's a poor choice for the long term, but I do not have the resources to set up a BOL elsewhere. I simply do not make enough money to buy land and build a shelter. Land in Florida is outrageously expensive, even in the middle of a swamp, and the population densities around here mean I wouldn't be hustling to a regional BOL, I'd be migrating to another state entirely. Which means moving north along with thousands (or more) of people with the same idea. This, to me, is not safer than a discrete and well stocked home shelter.

 

Im with you on this one, but from a UK perspective. Id definatly be staying put initially, then maybe head slightly further north towards the lake district, lots of hills, lakes (hence the name) and very few very large population centres. Part of me feels that heading east to the coast then hop across the North sea to mainland Europe. Although getting off this island may on the minds of rest of the country, so its a tricky one.

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A hidden Garden is great,and Im working along the same lines.

BUT i resentley talked to a friend who has a small farm,he planted 100 tommato plants(last year),after a month he was visited by the Virginia state Police!!

The heat comming off them at nite was the same as not so legal plant that some in this area grow in the woods..An eye in the sky is always around.

If for any reason you do go to the woods to plant a garden BE carefull of others PLANTINGS.Some have nastey traps!!!

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Unfortunately not everyone has the ability to walk away from their urban life. I love where I live (In the suburb of a town with a population of 425) but job opportunities here are rather limited. My wandering missive was not meant as an endorsement of urban life, rather it was meant for those that have to make do with things as they ARE rather than as they WISH they could be. My situation is the result of decades of always moving in this direction a little at a time.

 

40 years ago my wife and I sat down and dreamed. If we could magically make it so where would we live and what would we do?? We wrote it down and after that any time we had to make life altering decisions we chose the one most closely pointing in that direction. Basically we wanted to move into the country just outside of Mayberry...You know Andy Griffiths town. I was sick of the rat race and wanted to maybe open something like Emmit's Fix-it shop. LOL. It took 20 years before it started to come true but over time we made it happen. We look at that paper we wrote up that night so long ago and it is weird how closely we made it our reality.

 

The important thing is to PLAN ahead. If you don't know where you are going you shouldn't be surprised if you don't get there. If you are in an apartment in a big city right now, make plans for the future but also make plans for the present. If you have plans you will react faster because you just have to act...not decide first what the hell to do. TEOTWAWKI might or might not happen. It might not be a permanent thing or all that long term. BUT if you die today you won't be there when things get better so it's better to over act than to underact but worst of all is NOT to act at all because you can't do exactly what you wish you could. Act based on realities and if you live in town THAT is your reality at this time.

Edited by Danm

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Danm,

I agree that not everyone can 'walk away' from their livelihood. Wouldn't even want them to try. For a whole lot of financial reasons you might have to stay put. What you CAN do is recognize the limitations and prepare. The issue becomes what is the most likely SHTF event. Does it make sense to have a storage shed in suburbia as a good place to head for on your way out of Dodge? You don't want to be seen moving supplies so don't have to move them. If you can't have a BOL that you own, do you have a place you can go? A lake shore is not a bad place if it has enough cover. I'm not a big fan of caches as your preps are now out of your control but it could be the best option for a given situation.

 

Two thirds of the way up a high rise may not be the worse place to be but it isn't good on any number of levels. This gets back to 'leave early' or ride it out. Much like hurricane preps, if you're not gone soon enough, you are safer to ride it out that try to escape when the moment has past.

 

We have to survive to TSHTF event in order to survive past the event but never lie to yourself about your preps or environment. If a pandemic kills 90% of the people in a city, then there will be supplies IF you can get to them without getting the illness. If food shuts off and everyone riots, there is NOTHING there for weeks. Then what's left is limited. You have to be prepared to ride that out if you can't leave in time.

 

Not an easy choice - I'd rather live just outside a small town with a solid 6 figure income. I just haven't figured out how to do that so I work in suburbia. If I'm totally wrong, I may not live long enough to know it.

 

All we can do is our best.

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Guest kevin

capt.....its easy to see your a country boy at heart, and i have t agree that city survival isn't an option i'd settle for. however i do think some would make it there.....only problem is they'd be hunting each other as a food source .......so if your not pick about what/who you eat the city life COULD be an option......the donnor party recipe book should be in your preps tho.

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capt.....its easy to see your a country boy at heart, and i have t agree that city survival isn't an option i'd settle for. however i do think some would make it there.....only problem is they'd be hunting each other as a food source .......so if your not pick about what/who you eat the city life COULD be an option......the donnor party recipe book should be in your preps tho.

 

That's just WRONG on so many levels!:P Actually, there is a problem with cannibalism other than possible morality issues. Human diseases can pass quickly from food to eater when both are the same. Mad Cow disease actually appears to be a result of feeding cattle feed that contained cattle as a component. Over a long period of time, genetic issues got passed along.

 

Not trying to start a thread here, just mentioning that humans as food is not a 'risk free' option.

 

Yes, I was raised in the country and have often regretted being in cities. I just BREATH easier in the open. My idea of h*ll is me and 50,000 of my closest friends crowded into an area for some event!

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The biggest problem in an urban survival scenario that lasts more than just a VERY short time is the lack of sanitary waste disposal. You can store water and food but once the environment reaches a certain point the ugly monsters of the past will rear their ugly heads. Typhoid and dysentery, diphtheria? Lord only knows what will breed in raw sewage covered streets and people these days have little immunity to such because we don't have to deal with it.

 

Then at some point the fires will start...probably real soon as the system collapses. The worst elements of our society will take over and look at LA Riots and New Orleans if you want to see the beginnings. I hear people talking about the poor response and slow reaction to the Katrina thing. I KNEW people that were there as soon as the winds went down almost. A friend went over with a bunch of other linemen to begin trying to put the grid back together. He was home the next day because the assholes were SHOOTING at them! All relief had to wait while the Guard was called up and cleared the area so they could work. You heard about how many died; what you didn't hear was how many of those corpses had bullet holes in them! Since many National Guard troops were over there guarding Iraq and Afghanistan it took a little longer to get it moving than it might have other wise.

 

The cities will burn and in the end only the quick will survive. That old thing about the quick and the dead is a truism in a lot of ways even though the quick they meant were just the living. All that said however, you CAN improve on your chances.

 

What a lot of people here don't seem to get is that a lot of people don't have the money or resources that many here seem to take for granted. Just because you can't afford an M4 or even an AK doesn't mean that you need to just lay down and die.

 

I suspect that in the long haul those that depend on only the very best in equipment and supplies will not do as well as those that depended more on improvisation. The long term survivors will be those that best and first adapt to the situation. Planning ahead is a big part in that but there is also a certain mental flexibility that is necessary and can't be planned on.

 

If you are not financially well off and live in the city, that is what you have to deal with. You can WISH you lives in Mayberry all you want but that doesn't help. What you can do is learn and plan based of YOUR reality. Find the best ways to get out of town while staying OFF the roads. A lot of places have green-ways that are connected and might allow you to slip away after things settle.

 

It would be nice to have a place out of town to store some goodies but then it would be nice if nothing bad ever happened too. If you are in town in an apartment then your best bet is to be one of the QUICK. That means a light BOB and an intimate knowledge of the fastest way out of town once it is obvious that that is the way to go. It MIGHT NOT be the best thing to do!

 

I have lived my entire life since the age of 5 in hurricane country. I've been through the Eye 4 times. After Katrina there was another storm. Rita. It was the one not long after Katrina and was the 4th biggest Atlantic storm in history and the biggest to ever be in the Gulf. After seeing what happened in New Orleans the people of the upper Texas Gulf coast panicked. Let me tell you what that means…

 

When it comes to storms you need to remember to RUN from rising water and HIDE from High winds. Lots of New Orleans is below sea level so guess what they needed to do. Houston is NOT below sea level and the people north of the bottom part of Houstan just needed to hide. Instead they hit the road blocking the evacuation of Galveston and the other truly low lying areas!!! It was insane!!! A family of 4 would jump in their car in 100 degree heat (It was HOT as hell until the storm came in that day!) with a soda pop each in hand, a quarter tank of gas and a bag of cookies!!

 

I-45 was turned into a North bound only corridor running on both sides of the road. It was bumper to bumper, stop and go and soon things started to go BAD. People ran out of gas, cars overheated and the motors seized. It ended up being the longest parking lot ever and stretched from Galveston to Corsicana for a total stopped and screwed line of cars well over a hundred miles long. Those that were able and in towns descended on them like a plague of locusts! They sat in lines surrounding gas stations until they ran out of gas or over heated. Later this meant that the trucks couldn’t get there to deliver food or gas so they just sat there and after EVERYTHING available was bought it got CRAZIER. A 16oz bottle of water went for 5 dollars and a couple gallons of gas in a can would sell for 20 dollars.

 

Some people tried to help but instead got trampled on. I suspect if we were to have another storm like that this year most of the small towns would consider blocking off the exits.

 

My point is that in some cases the best thing to do is NOT run because at least if you stay home you have more resources. There were people 60 miles inland that were perfectly safe that spent a week living in their car in this mess! ANYWAY…

 

If you live in an apartment and can’t afford to move or even buy a second place that doesn’t mean you can’t improve your situation. What Rita taught me was that an incredible number of people will make NO plans at all and just run in panic without even taking food, water or bedding. Don’t plan on getting out of town in a car unless you are going to scoot every time ANYTHING even slightly bad happens. If you aren’t leading the pack you might as well stay home unless home is under immediate attack from nature or people.

 

I will bet that in every city there will be some that prosper. Explore the odd and unusual possibilities. When I was a kid I played in the storm sewers. As long as it wasn’t raining these were great hiding places. Most places there will be wooded areas and in these areas there will be some areas that people don’t go. I built a little fort in the middle of a briar patch once and once in place I was hidden and safe. A month after the end, cities will be mostly empty. No food, no water and sewage everywhere. The small towns near these places will be mostly dead and gone as well because the slime will roll over them. If you can figure a way to hide for a month you will have a much better chance than if you left as part of the pack. Use being poor to your advantage. Become expert in scrounging and taking the road less traveled. There is no type of equipment that you can’t improvise if you will think about it and learn a little about it. The nice thing about improvised stuff is that if you have to leave it or lose it you can always replace it later with other improvised equipment.

 

You will need a weapon. Several will be better and you need to think in distances. If people are over 50 yards away try to sneak away. Closer you may need to stand and fight…or lay in a hole and fight. A shotgun is good for 50 and in and cheaper than most rifles other than surplus. We LOVE surplus! But if you only have on gun make it a shotgun. A pump is my choice but even a single shot will do. One thing you better understand fast is that ANY wound could be lethal! Without doctors and hospitals people that fail to understand this will die early on. Gut shot is a suck way to go! ALWAYS think run and hide first and only fight when you must.

 

When they get closer you need something else. I like machetes and make mine sort of pointy to. Then a sheath knife for the hand to hand stuff. A butcher knife makes a great belt knife so you don’t need to spend a lot of money. I actually like my Old Hickory carbon steel knives a lot more than some of my more expensive knives.

 

A wool blanket rolled up in a tarp makes a decent bed roll. When it is really cold I put a space blanket between the blanket and the tarp and am pretty comfortable. Sleeping bags are nice but not necessary. I have a hammock for cool weather sleeping that weighs nothing and didn’t cost much either.

 

All you need for a mess kit in a pot and a spoon! I have a little old black iron pot with three worn legs hanging on my wall. My Great-Great hauled it from Shiloh to Gettysburg and that was his mess kit.

 

Backpacks are great but in my humble opinion you are better off with a canvas tarp that you bundle things in and then wear like a backpack than a cheap backpack. A heavy painter’s drop cloth that’s say 6 or 7 feet long and 4 or five feet wide will do.

 

A pair of vicegrips and some easily and cheaply gathered things is as good as or better than a hundred dollar multi tool.

 

My point is that no matter WHAT your present financial state there are still a lot of things that you can do NOW to improve your chances later.

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Guest kevin

totally agree dan......seems most people get caught up in the shinny new gadgets and big bore options when old school is tried and true. and yes "old hickory" or some of my favorite knives, the bed roll you describe is an exact match to the one i carry. something i wonder about a lot is why so many choose the ak47. a sks is much cheaper and designed as a RIFLE not a fully auto and shoots the same bullet. buying freeze dried is expensive , beans are not(yes i have some freeze dried, but my bulk provisions can be eaten or planted). i think all to often people try to store like their hoard is ALL they will ever have after teotwawki.....but if the vast majority of the population isn't around there will be plenty of hardware to scavenge .....i may be wrong but to my way of thinking a 2 year supply should be enough to "weather the storm" .....thats the time line I fell safe with, but to each their own. but 20 years of prep just isn't something i have the money(or room) to store.

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Great post. As someone who lives right in the middle of the big target, I think about this a lot. If my family and I aren't in the front of the first wave, its going to be time to ride it out. We have a car, but luckily we (dog inlcuded) are in good shape and if worse came to worse we can hoof it out. Any permanent/long term BOL is at least two states away. So might have to head over to the national forest/park and 'borrow' a cabin for a while. The main plan is to move. The wife and I are taking concrete steps to move and head back down south. If nothing else, just get off the I-95 corridor.

 

Another step was I aquired quite a few handtools this weekend, which will help me scavange if I have to bug in. There are lots of nice hiddey holes that most folks dont ever notice. One of these is the old sand filteration system that used to filter DC's water supply. Overview: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McMillan_Sand_Filtration_Site. One with pictures of the underground chambers: http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/12144/get-to-know-the-mcmillan-water-filtration-plant/I know where one of the above ground park sites is, but never been below. Would love to figure out a way inside that.

 

Key to Urban survival, be smart, be aware, and know your surroundings.

Edited by DC Matt

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I live in los angeles, I've been to the flashpoint of the LA riots(don't go there at night), and predictably with St. Trayvon's death we will possibly be seeing more unrest in the near future.

 

Our freeways and streets are jammed every day, it can take anywhere from 45 mins to several hours to go ten miles, just depends on traffic patterns.

 

What I'm saying is, nobody is going anywhere in a car, should SHTF.

 

Carrying a fixed blade aka dirk or dagger is a big problem legally here. I read a case where a guy got 2 years for it when the handle was exposed in his back pocket.

 

Know what you're doing when it comes to transporting firearms and knives. Police know a maxpedition bag has a carry-pocket, so it makes you an easy target.

 

All the police will be out in a tactical alert situation, but they sure won't be where the rioters are. They'll be in your neighborhood though, so don't give them an easy hook :)

 

I have enough rice and pasta for a few weeks, nowhere near enough water, and a gas stove. I could improvise a camp stove but it'd be nice to have something designed for it.

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Socal and Auton (above) make very good points. I've been reluctant to add to the thread because specific advice is only useful in certain situations, while general advice has already been addressed in other threads. I was thinking of writing an article for SC on this, too, at one point (lol).

 

How you prep and how you live before/during/after SHTF depends a great deal on *what* you are prepping for, exactly. There are two general themes that surface whenever there is discussion about prepping - 'prepping for the long term, apocalyptic end of the world' and 'prepping for the short term, really bad situation'. In the first, you do not expect things to come back to anywhere near the way they are now. In the second, you do expect things to come back to some semblance of things as they are now. If you go through this thread, you can pretty easily sort the posts into those two categories. The advice for one style of prepping is not usually the best advice for the other style, so you need to consider any specific advice in the context of which it is offered.

 

Me vs. Godzilla

I prep for the short term disaster, specifically a class 5 hurricane type event (which I refer to as 'Godzilla', because it will cause the same kind of reaction you see in the Godzilla movies). Such an event would create an 'end of the world' environment in my area. No incoming food supplies, no public utilities, no emergency services, no law enforcement, no medical facilities, flooding, potential for disease and fires, and of course crime. Mass panic before, and chaos afterward. But it would be a regional thing, limited to my city or area of the state, and it would eventually return to something similar to what it is now. Godzilla dies, or swims back out to sea, or wanders off to eat Sheboygan. The utilities would come back on, the cops would resume enforcing the law, homes will be rebuilt, and so forth.

 

So I have to prep for two possible plans - either relocate to somewhere outside of the event itself (and avoid it entirely) or shelter in place (survive the event, and all of the things that occur afterwards). I will have to follow one of these two plans until things return to normal. The classic decision to Bug Out or Bug In (though I think of it as 'Fall Back' or 'Dig In').

 

Bug Out/Fall Back

How big is the 'beaten zone'? -Decide how big of an area the event you are prepping for will encompass. That's the area you need to be well outside of, if you are going to avoid trouble. If you think Central Florida is going to be flattened by Godzilla, then North Florida is probably not far enough away to be a safe destination. You would still be in the 'splash' zone of refugees, power outages, crime, confused law enforcement and/or government agencies, and so forth.

 

Where are you going? - Have a destination in mind. It can be as specific as 'the hunting shack I lease at Lake of the Ozarks' or as general as 'Seattle'. The point is that you have to have a destination in mind to properly plan your travel. Just grabbing whatever you can, piling into the car and driving onto the interstate is going to make you miserable at best, and possibly dead if things go really bad.

 

How are you getting there? - What's your primary transport? What's your secondary transport if the first one isn't available or breaks down? Some people leave early, so they can hop a 747 and be sipping coffee in Seattle by sundown. Some people wait until they notice the neighbors leaving (think Will Smith in 'Independence Day') and then join the Great Traffic Jam in the family car. Repair services will be rare or ultra expensive, fuel will be the same. Your transportation must be reliable, it must be available when you decide to use it, and it has to be effective at getting you out of the area in time. Every mode of transportation has to be measured in these three areas.

 

What will you do when you get there? - So you made it to the hunting shack you lease, and you can hear the radio describing Godzilla trashing your town. It's going to be weeks, maybe months, before you can go back home. Between the actual destruction of the highways, bridges, power lines (and the occasional train), Godzilla also left the military/police in charge and they aren't letting people go home until they decide things are safe. What are you going to eat, drink and do while you wait for the chance to return home?

 

How will you get home? - This is more than just a question of return transportation, though that is a major concern. Repairs and fuel are going to be even more scarce now, and the highways (etc) are going to be damaged. Add cops, lawyers, rescue workers, insurance agents, refugees, and the media. Getting home is going to require patience, lots of identification, and time. When you get home, it may not be there at all - in which case, what will you do now that you are back in the middle of the beaten zone? You may be lucky and your home is intact - in which case, what will you do now for food, water, income, and so forth?

 

Bug In/Dig In

Staying put requires an entirely different plan, especially for an urban apartment dweller. There are two critical differences between owning your home and renting an apartment.

 

First, as a renter you cannot (usually) make any sort of modification to your apartment. This includes installing storm shutters, diverting rainwater to a collection system, and so forth. Your lease, your apartment management company, and your neighbors all have a say in what you will be allowed to change. A home owner can do whatever he has the mind to do, and the cash to spend.

 

Second, and more importantly, your apartment is connected to other apartments which are inhabited by people you cannot rely upon. All of your preps can be destroyed today, while you are at work, because the lady in the apartment next door has a little grease fire in the kitchen that gets out of hand. You come home and they are hosing down the remains of your entire apartment building. The ceiling of your apartment could collapse during the night, because the drunk above you fell asleep in the tub and didn't turn the water off. His tub overflowed, flooded his apartment and then leaked through to your place. You might have great storm shutters installed and be prepared to weather the hurricane in style...but the other 7 apartments in your building didn't bother to put shutters up, so their windows blow in, the roof rips off, and rain floods their apartments. You know what happens next, thanks to that drunk you had living above you before.

 

With those two differences in mind, you have to add a third one. As a renter, your landlord (or management company) has the legal right to enter your apartment and inspect it, at will. This extends to anyone they delegate, as well, such as the maintenance man, the guy who inspects the smoke alarms, the company that sprays for bugs, and so on. That's a lot of people who will see any preps you have, and lots of chances for hassles with the landlord, if you have anything he thinks you shouldn't have.

 

As an example, my apartment complex absolutely forbids the storage of any flammable liquids/solids inside the apartment or on the patio. No gasoline cans, no propane cylinders, no jugs of lantern fluid, no bags of charcoal - nothing. Any of those and you get an eviction notice, first time it happens. Anything that uses gasoline/oil is therefore prohibited as well - no lawn mowers, portable generators, chainsaws, kerosene lanterns, etc. On the one hand, this makes me feel a little better about the odds of my apartment burning down through carelessness, but on the other hand it makes it tougher to prep.

 

(arrgh just got called in to work, must finish this at some other time, sorry.)

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Good comments all. I did a funeral for a co-worker who died in the Rita evacuation and the storm missed Houston! I got caught in the mess on the roads; I was only going across town and I thought I was behind the herd. I was wrong. I did wind up passing out cold water, food and some fuel to people who needed help. Mostly families with children, single folks were on their own. Some folks tried to get a little pushy but the level of force emerging from our TWO (even two makes a convoy and a convoy is stronger than a single) vehicles helped them decide that it really was acceptable for me to determine who I helped! We were going short and could spare it but even so, it took 5 hours to cover about 40 miles and the first 30 or so were fast!

We bugged in for Ike and Dan is right - run from water, hide from wind.

 

The key is really here for all to see, be first out or stay put but don't be in the herd! As far as finances go, the lesson of 'Alas, Babylon' should not be lost. Even an extra $20 can be the difference between living and dying. I agree with the shot gun if I can only have one. An single shot 20 gauge or even a .410 can get the job done. We tend to think and talk about 'the best' survival gun. As I have said elsewhere, the absolute best gun you can possibly have is the one you have when you need it. For a long time my armory consisted of a .22LR rifle I'd had as a kid and a single shot 20 my bride had from her grandfather. They were the best guns available because they were what we could have and what we could afford to shoot! While I am a big bore bigot (always have been and the army made it worse when they made me use a M16) my first center fire rifle was purchased at a gun show, from an individual when I was 45 or so. It was a 30-30 lever gun and I still have it.

 

You are not helpless in the cities; you just have a different set of problems. Don't even think of walking out if you are not in great shape. Remember if you don't want to practice a walk out now because it isn't safe, think what it will be like after TSHTF. High rise defense is not impossible, it is just different than rural. Suburbia has a different set of problems as well.

 

SC has a great post started. I look forward to him being able to finish it. You don't have to have a Doomsday Bunker; that show is one of the dumbest shows on TV - NO bunker can be defended! They are good for letting storms and blast pass over you or hiding from radiation or just hiding from view but once they are discovered, they are indefensible in the long term. Every test on the TV show is set to demonstrate a strength of the bunker in question. Don't expect the MZBs to attack your strengths, expect them to attack your weaknesses. Doomsday Preppers also have a lot of stupid mistakes and they all seem to want to say, well this isn't a likely event. I've not seen any really good suggestions on these shows but I have seen a lot of implied 'you can't make it on your own' kind of stuff.

Edited by Capt Bart

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(I apologize if this sounds a little jumbled up, I just got home and I'm trying to pick up where I left off.)

 

Therefore, as an apartment dwelling prepper, you face some additional challenges compared to a home owner. Here are some of the things that I have found to be an issue while I prepare.

 

Security - you need to be able to conceal your preparations in some manner. You should do this while bringing things in/out of your apartment, and while storing things in your apartment. The first to avoid nosy neighbors and/or potential burglars, the second to avoid nosy/talkative visitors. You might own ten firearms, and enjoy loading up the truck to go to the range on the weekends...but chances are a LOT of folks have seen you lugging the guns in and out of the apartment, and its not hard to know when you are gone. Why set yourself up for a burglary? Put the guns and gear in non-descript containers, wrap them in a poncho, anything to keep them out of sight when you move them. Same for anything expensive or controversial. Inside the apartment, pick a closet or other central place to store your gear, make sure the gear is organized in ordinary (uninteresting) containers, perhaps labeled with things like "Christmas ornaments' or 'extra blankets & pillows'. Then make sure you keep the closet closed/secured, whenever you are not using it. I park both of our bicycles in front of our supply closet (which can't be locked). Most visitors are not willing to move my bicycles to peek into the closet behind it, and if they did they wouldn't see much of interest. A bunch of boxes and rubbermaid containers, some camping gear, plus some canned food on a shelf and a first aid kit (with a copy of FEMA's 'Be prepared for a Hurricane' pamphlet on top). Nothing to excite anyone, at least until they started examining what's inside of all those boxes. (Specific tip: If you must move something into/out of your apartment, and its something you really don't want seen, do it at night, and while you are bringing in grocery bags. People see/hear grocery sacks and automatically dismiss everything you are doing as 'ordinary grocery run'. Paper sacks are especially useful for this.)

 

Storage space - in an apartment you simply don't have a lot of storage space to work with. You have to eliminate excess packaging from anything you store. You have to buy smaller, more compact items when you can. You have to install extra shelving so you can maximize your vertical storage. You learn ways to increase your 'hidden' storage, like putting your bed up on some blocks (which lets you slide a double height stack of rubbermaid storage bins under the bed). You ruthlessly get rid of old clothing and junk, so you have room for your practical stuff. Buy a shoe rack to hang on the bedroom door, so you can slide in a couple of flat cases of stuff where the shoes used to sit in the closet. You might even consider renting a storage container or space nearby, for your larger and less critical items. That's an additional expense, and an additional security issue, but you may need the off site storage if your place is very small.

 

Portability - anything and everything you have that is important needs to be easy to load and transport in a hurry. Those extra containers you used to conceal your gear allow you to rapidly shift your key supplies from your apartment to your vehicle (and then to someplace else). Remember the worries about fire, leakage, and so forth? Sometimes you will have to grab your stuff and go elsewhere, and if you don't want to start over with nothing, you need to be able to quickly load up your gear and beat feet. The last time we did a dry run, it took us just over four minutes to move both bikes, everything in the supply closet, and the FireSafe document box into our truck. (I had to warn the neighbor we were going to do a 'fire drill' so she didn't freak out - something to think about if you don't know your neighbors very well.) When you store your gear, put the most important things closest to the door and on top of the stack. You may not have enough time to grab everything, so be sure that what you grab first is the most important.

 

Cultivate your relationships - make an effort to be polite and friendly to all of your neighbors, and especially to your landlord/management staff. You don't have to attend weddings and funerals with them, but you want them to look at you as a good tenant/neighbor if at all possible. A couple of years ago, a pair of guys who don't live in our complex decided to have a loud argument right outside our apartment. In the process they started kicking cars and throwing beer bottles around. I called the cops, but when I heard glass breaking, I went outside to confront them. There was a little scuffling, but I was sober, angry and well prepared for a fight. When the cops arrived to haul them both off to the hospital and jail, one of the officers expressed an interest in arresting me, too. One of my neighbors, someone who I had only waved and said hello to a few times before, came forward and spoke up on my behalf. It turns out she was a dispatcher for one of the local ambulance services, and her opinion of me as a 'quiet, good neighbor' was enough to change the officer's mind. She still waves and says hello from time to time, and you can be sure I smile and wave right back.

 

Be watchful - Everything I've said about nosy neighbors applies to you, as well. Pay attention to your neighbors' behavior. Note anyone who may be a prepper, or who might be a source of help if SHTF. Is there a paramedic or deputy sheriff who lives in your complex? Make sure you know where they live, and cultivate a relationship with them if you can. Know where the maintenance guy lives, and where he keeps all of the gardening tools or repair parts. My repair guy has told me that if a hurricane comes, he and his family are leaving town immediately. We talked about my intention to stay if I can, and he told me bluntly 'If you need anything after I am gone, everything is in the white shed with the green trim. The other shed is just junk like broken dishwashers and stuff. I will give you the key to the shed before I leave, if I remember. I know you will use it for staying alive, not just to steal.'

 

Know your area - this is a delicate subject, so I will try to explain it carefully. After SHTF, there will be a shortage of resources. Some people will need resources to survive, while others will just want to loot free stuff. Knowing where all of the major resource points are in your area will allow you to gather resources, or avoid looters, as needed. Every hot water heater in your apartment building is potentially 35-50 gallons of water than you can harvest if you need it. The swimming pool is another large water supply that won't require much work to harvest. Know where all of the local grocery stores are, where the hardware stores are, where the city/county road maintenance yards are, everything and anything that might be useful to you (or someone else). Just like someone in the country, there are resources there for you to gather up, but you have to know where to look, how to look, and when to look for them.

 

[That's a lot of general advice, and I apologize if the wall of text makes your eyes cross. I got called in to work when I had planned to have the day off, and it really messed up my train of thought.]

Edited by survivalcyclist
corrected my spelling, added specific tip

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I remember reading Earth Abides in high school, but don't remember much about it. Of course, that's been a year or two. Maybe it's time to reread it.

 

Didn't mean to nitpick, but thought it might matter if someone went looking by author and couldn't remember the title.

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