While there are many preparedness articles about home defense, most of them are about defense for someone living in a house. Very few articles explain how to defend an apartment or condo, but it’s an important topic for the many preppers who live in them.
While you obviously can’t survive in your apartment forever, you could survive there until the crisis is over. But to do that, you’ll need to fortify your windows and doors and gather some supplies. Here is how to defend your apartment from looters after the SHTF.
The first thing you need to fortify is your windows. Even if you’re not on the ground floor, your windows are still vulnerable to attack or objects being thrown through them. Here are some things you can do…
• Replace your glass windows with acrylic glass. It looks just like normal glass but it’s far stronger (if your apartment manager allows it).
• Permanently pin your window shut. How you do this will depend on the type of window. You could use nails, pins, screws, or extra window locks.
• Install security film. This stuff will slow down anybody trying to break through the window because the film holds the glass together when it breaks so it won’t shatter.
• Install window guards. These are great because even if someone breaks the window, they still won’t be able to get through.
• Install chicken wire. This might sound a little crazy, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Nail chicken wire over the inside of your windows (bend down the nails to hold the wire in place). This would be so difficult to get through that most looters would give up and move on.
After windows, the next most likely entry point is your doors. Here are a few ways to reinforce them.
• Replace the doors in your apartment with metal doors. Normal wood doors can be easily beaten down by a determined invader. (Again, you’ll want to check with your apartment manager first.)
• Install heavy duty locks, chains, deadbolts, swing bars, and so forth. The locks will make you look paranoid to other people, but you’ll be glad you have them after the SHTF.
The with problem locks is that they’re only as good as the frame holding the door in place. That’s why you should…
• Buy long screws and use them to reinforce your doors. Specifically, the jambs, hinges, and strike plates. If your door has screws that reach all the way into the studs around it, no one will be able to kick it in.
Note: If you have any sliding glass doors in your apartment, be sure to fortify them with a Charley Bar. It won’t make your glass door impenetrable, since anyone can still easily smash through it, but it makes it extremely hard for someone to open it on their own if not downright impossible. A simple cut down broom handle would work for a Charley Bar.
Now for the really fun stuff. You better have suitable weaponry in your apartment if you hope to resist home invasions and SHTF scenarios. While you may not have to use firearms for defense during SHTF, at least having them in your apartment would be good for peace of mind.
The simple act of brandishing a firearm can be enough to deter an invader.
• The first firearm you need for apartment defense is a handgun. This is the gun you keep on your nightstand and can keep strapped to your hip throughout the crisis. While you should never depend on a handgun as your primary weapon (as all pistol rounds are underpowered), it is still an excellent back-up weapon and a good choice to respond to emergencies quickly.
Any reliable handgun would work here, regardless of whether that’s a double stack 9mm like a Glock 19 or a 1911 in .45 ACP or a .357 Magnum revolver. Just as long as it’s reliable and has sufficient stopping power, it will work.
Also, plan on storing at least 500 rounds of handgun ammunition for extended SHTF situations (remember that an ammo shortage could occur that could last for months after the situation as well).
• Next up would be a pump action shotgun in 12 gauge of 20 gauge. Either of these is among the most effective close-range defensive weapons available. Pump actions are a superior choice than semi-autos for the reason that they will feed literally anything you give them, plus the sound of you racking a shell can be a deterrent to an intruder as well.
Examples here include the Mossberg 500 or the Remington 870. Have at least 250 rounds of shotgun ammo stored.
• Consider a semi-automatic defensive rifle as well, such as Mini-14, AR-15, or AK-47. A pistol and a shotgun should be sufficient for defending your apartment, but a defensive rifle would be a better choice for fending off multiple attackers.
For instance, if your apartment complex comes under attack and you have to fire down onto the streets, a semi-auto rifle is the best choice. Have at least 1,000 rounds set aside.
• While we’re talking about firearms, I should mention that you’ll want to buy some hearing protection. Needless to say, gunshots are incredibly loud when outside and will be even louder indoors. Invest in a quality set of hearing protection and your ears won’t regret it when the time comes.
What good is defending your apartment if you don’t have enough provisions to survive there for a long time? You need to be well-stocked in your apartment, and even if space is limited (especially if you have a studio apartment), there’s still a lot you can do.
• The first thing you need is water. For one person living alone in an apartment, the bare minimum is two gallons of water per day. Most people say one gallon, but you’ll want to have extra water for things like cooking and bathing. So to make it, say, three months, you’d need 180 gallons of water.
Store this water in either big containers or in small water bottles, and rotate it out once every six months. Here are some water storage basics worth learning.
• The next thing you need is food. Specifically, food that is nutritious, long-lasting, and non-perishable. Again, as with water, shoot for a three month supply. (Check out our beginner’s guide to emergency food storage.)
Normally, I’d suggest lots of basics like flour, beans, rice, pasta, and so forth. But those foods require lots of cooking, and it will be difficult to cook if the power is out and it isn’t safe to go outside. That means you’ll want to buy lots of foods that require little or no preparation, such as…
- Canned Soup
- Canned Fruit
- Canned Veggies
- Dry Cereals
- Protein Bars
- Breakfast Bars
- Dehydrated Food
- Freeze Dried Food
Admittedly, it won’t be a very healthy diet, but the idea is just to survive until things return to normal. If you’re worried about heating healthy, dehydrate lots of fruits and veggies while you can, and buy some multivitamins and other healthy supplements.
If some of your foods need to be heated up, you’ll need to be careful about how you cook them because most emergency stoves emit dangerous smoke and fumes. Fortunately, there are a few ways to cook indoors.
Use your fireplace if you have one. Otherwise, use a Sterno stove to warm up your food, or use a butane stove next to an open window for short periods of time. Just be aware that doing this could attract some dangerous people.
• Next up, you’re going to need personal hygiene items. This includes the usual basics like soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, and dish soap.
• Finally, have a healthy supply of medicines. Especially any prescription meds, if applicable. You’ll also need a complete first aid kit, which should consist of the following items at a minimum:
- Anti-Septic Wipes
- Cotton Swabs
- CPR Mask
- Elastic Wrap
- Finger Splint
- Gauze Pads
- Hand Sanitizer
- Medical Tape
- SAM Splint
- Sterile Pads
If your apartment manager allows it, getting a dog as a security system would be another wise investment. Beyond giving you badly needed companionship when you’re holed up in your apartment, a dog can alert you to potential intruders as well.
Even a small dog under 35 pounds will be better than nothing. Just make sure you designate a place in your apartment where your dog can relieve itself. You’ll also need lots of small trash bags, maybe some kitty litter, and containers where you can keep the waste. Here are some great dog breeds for preppers.
Another thing you should do is black out your windows at night. If there’s a citywide power outage but people see light coming from your window, they’ll assume you have lots of supplies (and they’d be right). So try not to use lights after the sun goes down. But if you must, hang blackout curtains so no one sees them.
Finally, if you don’t already live in one, you should move to an apartment that’s not on the ground floor. In fact, the higher the floor, the safer you’ll be. It’s much easier to defend the top of a staircase, and you’ll have a better view of what’s happening in the streets.
Plus, most looters won’t bother climbing too high before moving on to an easier target.
As you can see, defending an apartment or condo isn’t that different from defending a house or homestead. It all comes down to fortifying your doors and windows, having the proper weaponry to defend your home, and having a large stockpile.
If you can do that, you’ll have a very good chance of surviving until the crisis is over or until it’s safe to relocate.