7 Tips for Bugging In An Apartment

August 26, 2020

When It’s Safer Inside

  1. Preparing Your Environment
  2. Preparing Supplies
  3. Plant Food
  4. Prepare for Fire
  5. Be the Gray Man
  6. Plan Your Escape
  7. Have a Plan to Bug Out

When the world is falling apart outside, sometimes the safest place you can be is in your own home or apartment.  With recent events in our nation including rioting and protesting, it has left many feeling unsafe to venture out.  If things were to take a turn for the worse, are you prepared for an extended period indoors?  Are you prepared for bugging-in instead of bugging out?

Even during a global pandemic, some have found it difficult to remain in their homes for any significant amount of time.  Their dependence on food delivery and other outside services have become apparent.  Can you imagine what a hell it would have been for many if they also didn’t have the internet or streaming entertainment services?  Staying inside for an extended period of time requires the right environment prepared in advance and the right mental attitude.  In this video, we’ll look at 7 tips to make your bugging-in a survivable experience. 

Apartment units are not the ideal place to bug-in during a disaster, primarily because of the lack of space they provide and issues with security. However, not everyone has a bug-out place they can go to before a disaster, and leaving one’s apartment is not always an option during a disaster.

With so many people living in apartment buildings, preparing for a disaster is even more important.  Apartment buildings present several challenges when it comes to prepping, but it can be done and in this video, we’ll provide 7 tips on how you can bug-in an apartment. We’ll also identify the challenges that you’ll face once you start doing your preparations.

1 – Preparing Your Environment

There are several challenges to being a city prepper in an apartment.  Space is one of the primary reasons why prepping in an apartment is a problem.  A small space makes prepping harder since this limits your capacity to stock up on important supplies like food and water.  You have to be creative in storing your supplies. There are numerous space-saving products out there that you can buy or build to provide you with the extra space you need to store your supplies. You can also maximize the space that you already have like making use of the space under your bed or couch to store your items. You can also make use of vertical space, meaning stack your storage items so it uses minimal space in your apartment. 

Think in terms of a grocery store: stock vertically and make sure you implement a rotation system so things don’t expire and become useless.

Apartment living also has a host of security concerns.  Since apartment complexes are built to maximize space and fit as many people as possible in a small area, this means you’ll be packed in with many other people in a tight space. Having people nearby can be both a good thing and a bad thing. If you’re lucky enough to have like-minded people living in your apartment complex, you can help each other with prepping.  But the reality is that most people will not prepare which is why you’ll need to have some safety measures in place.

Consider upgrading your door lock like installing a deadbolt if it doesn’t have one yet. Also, get a door security bar to prevent any easy access to your doors. There are numerous cheap but good options out there that you can easily install and remove without damaging the door.

If possible, give serious consideration to strengthening your door frame.  One of the common ways that people enter illegally into a house or apartment is through a door.  There are several products on the market which allow you to strengthen your door frame.  Cover your windows with blinds or light diffusion films and keep them closed when you’re not home or after dark. With blinds, you prevent people from eyeing what’s inside your apartment unit. If your windows are accessible from the outside, you will want to add security measures to make sure no one enters through your windows.

Get to know your neighbors since this will help you find like-minded people and also avoid those who could be a threat to you during disasters.  If you’re dealing with a large space, consider installing detectors or security cameras to add to your protection. You also need to have the means to protect yourself and your family in case of a break-in.  

It’s not uncommon to receive a notice that some people will need to come to your apartment to make an adjustment, do a repair, or check something. This kind of scenario affects your privacy greatly since this allows people to enter your home and observe you and your safe environment. To ensure your privacy, even if certain people need to go into your apartment, you need to properly store important items so they’re not visible or can be accidentally discovered. Consider putting those important items in a drawer or closet that you can lock.  You can also place some of your emergency supplies in a closet or cupboard that you can lock so they’re not visible to everyone coming in and out of your apartment.  You don’t always know who this individual is coming into your home to do the repair so be sure to keep your preps private. 

Finally, beyond securing your windows and doors, be prepared for your in home defense.  Whether that’s a knife, self-defense training, a gun, or a can of bear spray, make sure your person is protected as well as your premises.

The considerations you need to make depends on the unique environment of your apartment, but you need to prepare your environment in advance.  You won’t have time after the fact.

2- Preparing Supplies

Careful preparation has to be implemented for the supplies you will need for an extended bug-in scenario in an apartment setting. Since space is going to be the major problem when you do your preparation, it’s imperative that you only prepare the basic and necessary items that you will need during an emergency. You can use 5-gallon plastic buckets with lids as a dry storage space for your supplies. This will allow you to stack them, and will provide an easy means for bugging-out, if your circumstances necessitate that.

Food, of course, is one of the important supplies that you will need to have since you will need it in order to survive during a disaster. You’ll need to focus your food preparation on non-perishable foods. Not only will this help you in case you don’t have a way to keep your refrigerator powered up during a power outage, but this also means you won’t have to worry about food spoilage.

Canned goods have a long shelf life, but they are also perishable.  They won’t last forever and are heavy to transport.  For a week to a month bug-in period, canned goods can supplement your longer shelf life foods.

Make sure that the foods you’re packing are high in calories. Foods that provide heavy calories, which you will need more of during an emergency situation, are most valuable to you in a crisis situation.  Special vanity diets quickly become irrelevant when food is linked to your survival. Consider storing foods that you can eat by just boiling in water or without even the need to cook. This will save you the need to have an ample supply of fuel and cooking oil in your home.

Water is the second essential supply you will need to prepare if you are bugging-in an apartment. This is the trickiest supply you’ll need to store since it can take up space in your apartment. But this doesn’t mean that you should forgo preparing water since having access to clean water during an emergency can ensure that you’ll survive. 

Having a small water tank or container is the best to help you survive during an emergency, but space may prevent you from having this. Collapsible water tanks, water bricks that can easily slide under the couch and bed, water bobs that you can fill up in your bathtub at the start of an emergency, and water purification tablets, are all good options if you have some forewarning of a disaster.

Beyond food and water, the list of essentials for an apartment dwelling city prepper is long: A first aid kit and supplies of medicines to deal with common illnesses or ailments like cold, cough, flu, upset stomach, and pain should be well stocked at all times. A toolkit that contains the basic tools you will need like a hammer, some nails, screwdrivers, screws, and several rolls of duct tape can help you make repairs or help you repurpose things within your living space.

Toilet paper has recently risen to prominence as a prepping supply.  There are ways to compress toilet paper without damaging it if you want to save storage space. A 5-gallon plastic bucket with a lid can easily be repurposed as an emergency toilet, and bidets can easily be installed to conserve supplies, assuming water services are not disrupted.  Feminine hygiene products are also essential.  These can also be used for dressing wounds.

You’ll also need to have a source of power and light should electricity go down. You can store batteries for your flashlight or radio. Just make sure to constantly check the batteries since they have an expiration.  Don’t underestimate the value of a hurricane or emergency candle.  You can also use a crank flashlight or crank charger in case you run out of batteries so you’ll still have access to light and power.   A small portable solar generator will be critical as long as you have a place where you can place your panels to get direct sunlight.

It’s also good to have several blankets stored in order to help you and your family stay warm during the winter. You can also consider using sleeping bags since they’re better at keeping you warm and it’s easier to pack them in case you need to bug out of your apartment.

3- Plant Foods

Though apartments have small spaces, this doesn’t mean you can’t plant vegetables and other edible plants to provide you with a long-term food solution. There are numerous vegetables and plants that only need a small grow area.

We recently completed a blog on the 25 best plants to grow in your apartment, so we won’t go into too much detail here.  What you need to prepare now is for the possibility that what you can produce is also all that you may have to survive upon.  Mushroom kits require no light to grow.  Sprouts and microgreens can provide you a harvest in as little as 7 days.  There are a wide range of options for edible plants, and, again, I encourage you to take a look at the video on 25 of the best.

You can’t really ramp-up a serious home growing operation, however, once a calamity has struck.  It is something you need to establish somewhat in advance.  researched several options for growing vegetables in an apartment.  While many people rule this out due to the limited space, don’t.  Any extended period of bugging-in will require you to supplement your non-perishable food stores.

4- Prepare for Fire

Keep your apartment prepared for fires.  Another tip for bugging-in an apartment is you need to be prepared for fires. With so many people living in one complex, you are somewhat dependent upon other people in your building making good choices and practicing good safety measures. Imagine what could happen when the power goes out and everyone is suddenly reliant upon candles and barbecues.  That’s potentially a great number of people with very little experience, cooking with open flames on their decks and leaving unattended candles burning inside.  You need to be prepared in case a fire breaks out in your apartment or in your neighbor’s apartment.

You will need fire extinguishers and fire blankets to use to fight fires. Know where the fire exits are in case you need to evacuate the premises, and always have some of your prepared supplies bug out ready in case any fire forces you to have to flee for survival.

Consider having protective masks for you and your family in case you need them to avoid inhaling toxic fumes.  Smoke inhalation kills quickly, so keep a gas mask handy that might give you the minutes you need to survive and escape if that’s something you’re able to afford.

5- Be the Gray Man

Be the Gray Man – we mentioned earlier the importance of getting to know your neighbors enough so they know who you are, but not too much that they know everything about you. Well, this is basically you becoming the gray man. You are visible enough to be one of the crowd but not standing out so much that you are attracting extra attention from everyone.

It’s important that you avoid bragging to everyone that you are a prepper since you are making yourself a target during emergency situations. Not everyone will be prepared when a disaster strikes, so telling everyone that you are a prepper is like inviting them to knock at your door during a disaster when they need a candle, a cup of beans, water to cook them, batteries for their radio, and so on.

Observe OPSEC, or Operational Security, by keeping your prepping a closely held secret.  Be a friendly face in your apartment complex enough where people have concern for your well being, but not enough that you’re the go to person.  You may want to help a few people, and that is great.  If you do, always downplay your supply levels and ask the person not to share that you’ve helped them out.  This will keep a hoard of neighbors showing up at your door.

6- Plan Your Escape

Look for Alternative Escape Routes – Unlike a house, where there are usually several doors to exit and enter the house, most apartment units will only have one door for the entrance and exit. This is why you need to find an alternative exit from your unit should the door become inaccessible.

You need to have a plan to escape via your apartment’s windows should the door become inaccessible or in a worse case scenario prepare for the potential that you may have to break down a door if you have the tools necessary.  A retractable, window, fire ladder is essential if you live on an upper floor.

Can you escape to the roof, across the roof and down another stairwell?  Can you escape out the backdoor instead of the main street?  Can you easily grab your supplies and escape?  In addition to having a pre-made bug-out bag, what other prepping supplies can you easily pack and bug-out with if necessary?

7- Have A Plan To Bug Out

Have a Plan to Bug Out – After you have made all of your preparations for bugging-in an apartment, it’s important that you should not rule out the possibility that you will still need to bug out. Whether the circumstances of your original need to bug-in have changed or, like we mentioned earlier, a fire breaks out and forces you to evacuate, you may need to flip your bug-in plan to a bug-out plan.

You need to plan for a bug-out location, which is outside the city that you are living in and is potentially unaffected by the disaster.  You also need to have multiple routes outlined on how to get there from your apartment, will you travel by vehicle, on foot, or by bicycle? What routes are you going to take and what other alternative routes you will have in case the original route is unpassable?

You also need to prepare a bug-out kit that will contain everything you need and you can easily grab. Make sure the kit will have enough supplies to last you for the duration of the travel and for at least a few days of stay to your bug-out location.  Realize also what additional things you might be able to grab from your supplies before needing to abandon them all together.  Make sure anything you leave behind is well hidden in case the opportunity to return to your apartment becomes a possibility.


Bugging-in an apartment is challenging and presents many more difficulties than even a suburban house. But with the right planning and some creative solutions, especially in terms of storage space, you can still survive a disaster or emergency situation even if you are living in an apartment.  Prepare your environment.  Prepare your supplies.  Prepare for fire.  Keep your plans a secret.  Plan escape routes, and prepare for the fact that you may eventually have to bug-out.

As always, please stay safe out there.

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