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Defending an Apartment After A Major Disaster

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I don’t live in an apartment anymore, but I did for several years. For many people, there’s simply no other choice. Houses for rent can be hard to find or too expensive. If you’re living in an apartment and you’re on this site, you probably have some concerns about how safe you’ll be if the SHTF. The good news is, there are some steps you can take to defend yourself in case looters and hungry scavengers come knocking.

Doors. You’re going to want some sturdy doors, ideally metal fire doors. If your apartment manager allows it, I would consider replacing your current doors with them. Otherwise, get some long wood screws and reinforce your doors.

You should also get several 2×4’s and cut them to span the width of your door. Then if things are getting ugly and you’re ready to bug in, you can drill them into place, at least one a couple feet above and one a couple feet below the doorknob. Also consider getting some battery-operated doorknob alarm. Simply hang one on the inside doorknob and an alarm will sound if anyone tries your door.

Windows. Even if you’re on the second floor or higher,  your windows are still vulnerable to attack from the floor below or above or from a building across the way. In order to stop people from checking out your apartment, buy some bubble wrap and tape it over the windows in the day. That will allow natural light inside but will obscure people’s view.

Also buy some thick curtains, the kind designed to block out 99% of sunlight. Close the curtains at night so no one will see if you’re using a light or a candle. If people see your lights, they’re liable to assume you have food and supplies (and they’d be right!).

For additional security, buy or find some sections of chain link fence and cut panels that fit your windows. Then if things get bad, nail these panels to the inside of the window by driving the nails in halfway and bending them over the chain links. If you have a balcony, get enough chain link to completely fence in your balcony. When the time comes, put hooks in the underside of the balcony, hang the fence, and secure it with bent nails at the bottom. You should also keep some bolt cutters on hand in case you need to get through the fence.

In case someone does get through the doors or windows, get a hand or battery-powered portable motion sensor. Set it somewhere that will cover the main traffic areas in your apartment before you go to bed.

Bulletproof Home


  • Wood screws.
  • Power drill and/or screw drivers.
  • 2×4’s.
  • Bubble wrap.
  • Sun blocking curtains.
  • Chain link fence.
  • 16p nails.
  • Hammer.
  • Bolt cutter.
  • Doorknob alarm.
  • Motion sensor.
  • The most important thing to keep on hand for self defense: Guns.

I’ve heard people express concern that if you’re in an apartment, someone could go into the apartment next door and start smashing through the wall. But if you start shooting, they’ll stop smashing. Do some research and get whatever gun would be best for you and your situation.

If you follow these steps, you should be safe in your apartment for weeks or maybe months. Of course it all depends on the disaster. You might not make it that long if it’s a zombie apocalypse or something, but as far as protecting against looters and rioters, this should do.

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What to read next: First Line of Defense: The Front Door.

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  • accroyer

    Living in an apartment 101
    -Always know your exits and  entrances of your complex.
    -Request a second floor apartment (first floor is easy to break into and a second floor dwelling is just high enough out of reach for robberies but low enough to escape).
    -Keep a small Go Bag always on hand
    -Always change out the locks once you move in.
    -If there is more then one exit or lobby, periodically switch up your departures and arrivals at you apartment. Use the different available entrances, this process keeps your would -be adversaries unsure of your whereabouts at any given time….never become predictable.
    -KEEP a DOG in your apartment if you can.

  • Shawn

    Great post. You’re right – it’s an unfortunate reality that many people today can only afford to live in apartments. If you’re one of those apartment dwellers, taking the above steps will definitely help in a major disaster situation. I would also suggest slowly building up some food and water supplies as well as a few additional items (view my full list on my website – http://www.apartmentsurvivalguide.com . The most important prep is knowledge & survival skills. Have a plan!

  • Adam Sockwell

    You can also use bed room and closet doors to nail over main door