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  • Planning ahead in an apartment

    Ok, fine. I'll go first! Hope this is the right forum for this topic.

    I was raised in an area (and era) that once a year or more lost power for at least 3 days at a time. It was almost always weather (ice) related. We knew it was coming, so we were prepared. Rarely did we remember the occasions from one year to the next. That's just the way it was. Clearly, most have lost sight of this mindset. We have become complacent because in all honesty, we don't lose our creature comforts regularly and when we do, it's for hours instead of days. Still, I can't seem to shake the desire for some degree of self-reliance.

    That said, I live in an apartment and as such, have limited space for what I consider minimal contingency supplies. I don't have a good stock of fuel (not even a couple of propane tanks for the grill) because I don't feel it's safe to store them inside or even in the garage during Texas summers. I'll manage water only if I have lead time and can fill the bathtub. Even then, I have to wonder if the drain closes well enough to actually hold it.

    So my question to this community is: What suggestions do you have for apartment-dwellers who would like to be able to sustain themselves if the need arose?

    I'll admit that I'm leaving this topic rather broad as some will aim for infinite sustainability while others will plan to buy themselves a few days. I'm open to all discussions. If we become to diverse in this thread, we can split off for more in depth discussions.
    The government cannot give to anyone anything that it does not first take from someone else.

  • #2
    I have a few suggestions. Since I, too, once lived in an apartment back in the day, and was into being prepared back then as I am now.

    Water. Here is what I did. I got a fish tank, and made sure I used no chemicals in it, and put some fresh water Mollies and Platy's in it. I have a 75 gallon one currently. A fish tank usually comes with a stand that provides some under the tank storage. A second idea is a waterbed. I had both. My wife refuses to sleep on one, so that is out of the question now days. My biggest problem I had when living in an apartment was the lack of storage space. I solved this problem with a Hammock. I slung a hammock like a cargo net in the walk in closet and used it store a variety of items, including back pack, fart sack (sleeping bag), and other bulky items that were not too heavy. I also stocked the pantry like a grocery store, putting the newly bought items in the back and used the older items first. Another thought on the waterbed, get a 6 drawer under dresser. You can stuff lots of stuff into them.

    Cooking. That is a pretty easy fix. Oshmans (I think they are Sports Authority now days) used to sell a small spin on cook top that would fit on the small propane cylinder that is smaller then a 2 litre pop bottle. It was 14.99 back in the day. I have used it inside and never got gassed out. Also, sterno is cheap and works well.

    You can also fit lots of "stuff" under the bed, such as bug out cloths, and other goodies. My apartment also had a hot water closet where the hot water heater was. It was a small heater and I got in real tight with the maintence man. For a 6 pack of cheap beer, he put a couple of shelves above the heater, and painted them to look like they belonged. Extra space!! If you are on the second floor, you may be able to use some of the balcony for stuff, but I do not recommend it on the first floor.

    Another option for water is a water filter. You can use it on the swimming pool water. I know most apartments in DFW have swimming pools. I know it does not seem too apetizing to drink water out of a pool after a few hundred dirty little kids are using the pool as a community bath, and drinking water out of an aquarium where fish deficate all the time sounds much more palatable, those filters will take out the bad stuff, including the swimming pool chemicals. And, I suggest that the pool is cleaner then the Trinity River. If you are still unsure after filtering the water, boil it, then dump it rapidly between two containers to add air back into it. Boiled water tastes really bad, but the moment you shake it up and get air back into it, it tastes just fine.

    Another thing to consider, if something bad happens plan on getting the heck out of any apartment complex. It is not a good place to be, or to defend should anything bad happen for a prolonged period of time.
    rshakelford@ymail.com

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    • #3
      Rusty, thanks for the suggestions. I do have water filtration because there is a pool and even a creek nearby. Some people have elaborate water storage plans that simply aren't options in an apartment. Filtration/DE/chlorine are about as good as it'll get for me. And really, that ain't all that bad.

      As for storage, since I only have to plan for myself, I think I'm ok for most (reasonable) preps. I always make sure the pantry has canned and non-perishable food, etc. Plenty of room for a decent stock pile. Other things are admittedly a bit scattered to take advantage of the room I have. But, I'm not without the basics. You mentioned some really good ideas for storage, though. The hammock in the closet is brilliant!

      What about storing white fuel or propane inside? I really hate the idea of endangering others and it might even be in violation of apartment leases if discovered. Even my garage has an apartment's living space above it. I do need a way to cook. But if I wanted to be prepared for even a couple of weeks, it would take a decent amount of whatever fuel I needed. Anyone want to chime in on this?

      Of course, you're absolutely right about bugging out rather than bugging in if things really got bad. The only catch is...you have to have a place to go for that to work. I'll be stuck here doing the best I can for as long as I can. Hopefully, the idea that if you prepare you'll never need the stuff pans out!

      Keep the ideas coming.
      The government cannot give to anyone anything that it does not first take from someone else.

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      • #4
        This is the exact unit I own. These propane cylinders are 15 ozs. If it is a violation to have one or 2 of these, then it is a violation to have a can of Pam cooking spray. Just my opinion though.

        http://www.coleman.com/coleman/colem...+Propane+Stove

        I see the price is $24.00, and last time I bought one of the small propane cylinders it was $4.99. They are non refillable though.
        rshakelford@ymail.com

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        • #5
          [QUOTE=I see the price is $24.00, and last time I bought one of the small propane cylinders it was $4.99. They are non refillable though.[/QUOTE]

          Lasting 2 hrs. on high and 4.5 on low, it doesn't sound like a good Plan A item. But, definitely a solid B! Actually, it would be good to go hand in hand with something that would connect to a standard propane tank. I understand a duel fuel, 2-burner camping stove can be converted to propane. That sounds ideal.
          The government cannot give to anyone anything that it does not first take from someone else.

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          • #6
            You have to think. 2 hours on high. There is nothing I cook for 2 hours. That is 2 hours of continious cooking. 3 tanks would give you 6 hours. If it takes 30 mins to cook a meal, figure that would give you 12 meals. They are small and light. Just an option.
            rshakelford@ymail.com

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            • #7
              Oh, don't misunderstand. I agree with you. But even here in N. Tx., I've seen 5 days with no services what so ever. It was in the winter, I was young, broke, had just moved here and was caught completely unprepared. Unlike my apartment today, at least I had a fireplace. There was plenty of ice to melt for water and cooking wasn't a problem. Had that not been the case, I'm sure I'd have run through more small cylinders than I would have thought to store. Back then, I raided the wood of neighbors....all of whom had bugged out. (Yes, I left notes offering to replace it. No one took me up on it.) My point is that standard propane tanks seem more practical. One would supply me with more than I'd likely need. Two would have me set for situations I really don't see happening. That said, how safe is it to store a propane tank inside? "They" say not to. But like you said, there are other flammables inside that we don't seem too concerned about. Then again, a propane take is a BIG flammable!
              The government cannot give to anyone anything that it does not first take from someone else.

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              • #8
                Oddball, I presently live in an apartment and although I don't get to garden, I am at least as prepared as a city person can be or better. I strive constantly to make maximum use of space in cabinets, shelves, drawers, under the bed, and in dead attic space. As a result, I have food stores for months and about 30 gallons of water in a three-room efficiency.

                Check with your landlord about options regarding propane, but I would think that if the apartment has gas stoves or gas water heaters, it surely should allow propane. If you don't have that option though, you could look into using Sterno Canned Heat and a Sterno Reflector Stove or even Sterno with a large ventilated tin-can hobo stove. I've seen convention gatherings at hotels use Sterno and aluminum chafing pans indoors to keep food warm, so as long as you keep Sterno near an open window for ventilation and follow manufacturers instructions, it should be no problem.

                If you can get outdoors in the apartment perimeter safely and without getting noticed by the Zombies and Reavers, you could use a small charcoal hibachi grill. Charcoal, of course, should NEVER be used indoors, even in a chiminey, as Carbon Monoxide can accumulate and silently poison and kill all inside.

                A solar oven could be used outdoors in full sunlight and they are good to use if food is cut into small pieces to absorb heat faster. Heat gets up to 350 degrees inside. Solar ovens are easy to make too, they are basically a black heat-absorbing box inside a larger box with a windowed door and paper insulation in between the boxes.

                Whatever you use, you'll need to conserve fuel, so I would recommend Thermos cooking. Simply use your chosen heat source to boil water, then pour the water into a clean Stanley Stainless Steel Thermos with your vegetables, already-cooked or jerked meat, and seasonings, then close it up and let it cook. A Stanley Stainless Steel Thermos will keep food hot for up to 12 hours and it will taste delicious at the end of a hard day of disaster recovery.

                (I emphasize Stanley Stainless Steel Thermos because it is much more durable than Thermos containers made with internal glass bottles that break easily. Also, a Stanley Stainless Steel Thermos has heft to it and makes a Helluva good club against marauders. No joke.)

                If none of this is an option, canned or packaged pre-cooked ready-to-eat foods are always good.

                Second floor apartment living with no one above you is perhaps the best option for the temporarily city-bound Survivalist, especially with a steel spiral staircase like mine to provide home-invasion insurance. There's distance between you and the rabble below, yet it's also not far to climb down if you have to evacuate in the event of a fire. Have your escape ladder and routes ready well in advance. (In the event of both fire and rabble, have your arms ready to take on Matthias and his gang of freaks like Robert Neville in The Omega Man. :D ;) )

                If your lease permits it, use your apartment to raise tropical fish, birds, turtles, snakes, lizards, lab mice, hamsters, gerbils, or other cagey critters that can make you a livestock income even in the city. If you are on the sunny side, raise edible houseplants like a bucket tomato plant, basket strawberries and blueberries, windowsill herbs, sprouts, or edible mushrooms. It's not as much as a country garden, but at least it's something to supplement the pocket and diet and train you for a move to the country.

                I hope that my words have been helpful. Good luck for as long as you may stay in your apartment. Myself, while I like my apartment, I do want a place in the country soon and am taking baby steps to get there.
                Last edited by TheUnboundOne; 09-18-2008, 07:33 PM.
                "Apocalypse is by no means inevitable." --Jim Rice.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by TheUnboundOne View Post
                  If your lease permits it, use your apartment to raise tropical fish, birds, turtles, snakes, lizards, lab mice, hamsters, gerbils, or other cagey critters that can make you a livestock income even in the city. If you are on the sunny side, raise edible houseplants like a bucket tomato plant, basket strawberries and blueberries, windowsill herbs, sprouts, or edible mushrooms. It's not as much as a country garden, but at least it's something to supplement the pocket and diet and train you for a move to the country.

                  I hope that my words have been helpful. Good luck for as long as you may stay in your apartment. Myself, while I like my apartment, I do want a place in the country soon and am taking baby steps to get there.

                  I agree with the fish tank. I also very much agree with herbs and maters in buckets. I do not agree with the rats and snakes. Just my opinion.

                  Another helpful suggestion is if you are in an upstairs apartment with a balcony, I suggest as roll up rope ladder stored on the balcony, and ready to be used.
                  rshakelford@ymail.com

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                  • #10
                    Rusty, Snakes and lab rats were just two more macabre examples that came to mind. Naturally, not everyone would prefer such in their menagerie.

                    :D

                    On a more serious note, an added consideration about raising lab rats for profit is doing so discretely and with proper security measures...since the Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front are second only to Al-Qaeda as domestic terrorist threats.
                    "Apocalypse is by no means inevitable." --Jim Rice.

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                    • #11
                      Rusty, Fret not. I mentioned the escape ladder above...unless you have a trampoline outside your window. ;)
                      "Apocalypse is by no means inevitable." --Jim Rice.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        My apartment (most around here) doesn't have any gas supply. Everything is electric which is one reason for my cooking concern. Our lines are also above ground. Add trees and it doesn't take much of a storm to lose power. Like I said, I can get by fine for a short storm-related power failure. For more long-term situations, my thinking flip-flops from planning to bug in to coming up with a way to bug out. I don't have a place to go or family/friends to bug out with, so I keep coming back to bugging in. But, it really seems like a futile plan.

                        My apartment also has steep pet deposits for any and all critters and I can't afford that. Honestly, it's not something that would work for me, anyway. Not a bad suggestion, though. I also can't have my preps take up a lot of my living space. So, storing hundreds of gallons of water might not work out. I have filtration and purification supplies instead.

                        You guys have given me lots of food for thought. I think I really have to decide on the bug-in/bug-out issue before I can get much farther. Well, I can definitely use some of your suggestions for cooking. The more you bring up, the more we can all learn.
                        The government cannot give to anyone anything that it does not first take from someone else.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by TheUnboundOne View Post
                          Rusty, Fret not. I mentioned the escape ladder above...unless you have a trampoline outside your window. ;)
                          Indeed you did, and indeed I missed it.
                          rshakelford@ymail.com

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                          • #14
                            kinda outa the loop

                            I haven't had an apartment for 30 + years so I am outa the loop but 16 oz propane tanks seems innocent to me. Though I am loath to recomend anything that might be construed as less than legal; Post SHTF there MIGHT be large propane tanks on RV's litteraly floating about near RV storage sites. An adapter valve would alow a person with a typical Coleman/back-packer propane stove to tap that resource. A 5 gallon tank, even boiling water, would last weeks, maybe more than a month
                            The road to serfdom is paved with free electric golf carts.

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                            • #15
                              Howdy, Kenno!

                              You wrote:

                              I haven't had an apartment for 30 + years so I am outa the loop but 16 oz propane tanks seems innocent to me. Though I am loath to recomend anything that might be construed as less than legal; Post SHTF there MIGHT be large propane tanks on RV's litteraly floating about near RV storage sites. An adapter valve would alow a person with a typical Coleman/back-packer propane stove to tap that resource. A 5 gallon tank, even boiling water, would last weeks, maybe more than a month
                              While it is good to have your own propane and natural gas tanks, in a SHTF situation, flood waters are no place to be for a number of reasons, especially with loose propane and natural gas tanks floating around.

                              Flood waters harbor human waste, garbage, snakes, mosquitos, and the pathogens they carry. Flood waters also harbor dangerous chemicals that make the water undrinkable. As little as 6 inches of moving flood waters can knock a walking person down and are a hazard to drive in, since they can loosen the brakes of the car, cause the tires to hydroplane, and flood waters can conceal sharp objects that can puncture tires or skin.

                              And as for floating propane and natural gas tanks, if you ever see one, go quickly in the other direction. If such a tank is leaking and near a downed power line or a piece of metal that can make sparks, the tank becomes an instant bomb.

                              Back in 1989, one such natural gas tank got loose in the flood waters caused by Hurricane Hugo at an apartment complex of a friend of mine. Emergency authorities evacuated the entire block until they could secure the tank because that one tank could have destroyed that whole block.

                              Like the guy said on Hill Street Blues: "Hey!...Let's be careful out there!"
                              "Apocalypse is by no means inevitable." --Jim Rice.

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