Sunday, July 6, 2008

Apartment and Condo Security/Preparedness Tips

When people think about "survivalists", they think they need to live in a cabin way out in the woods in order to be a "real" survivalist; this simply isn't true. No matter where you live whether it is in the idealized cabin in the woods, a house in the suburbs, an apartment, a trailer, a dorm room, or under a bridge, you can be prepared and ready to survive any situation--being a survivalist is more about attitude, skills, education, and logic/critical thinking skills than it is about location. With that in mind, let's look at some ways that you can be secure as well as prepared if you live in an apartment/condo situation:
  • Choose your location carefully; apartments and condos in "bad" sections of town usually have more crime and problems than in "good" sections of town. The extra rent to live in a better neighborhood may well be worth it.
  • Before signing the lease, check out the location at night. Is there good lighting? Are there secure entry ways that at left secured or are they left open for anyone to wander in? How is the parking? If it is an underground parking structure, is it secure? Are there security officers on the premises?
  • Take a look at fire safety efforts. Fire is one of the biggest threats in an apartment building because a small fire in a neighbors apartment can destroy the entire building. Is there a sprinkler system? Are there working fire alarms? Are there fire extinguishers both in the units and in the hallways/outside of the units? Are they in working order? Are there fire blocks in the attic or is it an open, continuous attic for the entire building?
  • Always have renter's or condo owners insurance.
  • How secure are the doors and windows? Exterior doors should be re-keyed when you move in. They should also have deadbolt locks and peepholes.
  • Devise a system (even is it is the simple matchstick system) to determine if anyone has entered your home while you are away. The building super/maintenance man/manager must give you written notice before entering your apartment--they can't just wander in when they feel like it.
  • Put timers on a lamp and a TV set to come on at various times if you are away from home in order to make it look like there is activity in your home.
  • Get to know some of your neighbors so they will watch your place (you can be neighborly and keep an eye on theirs as well). This will also clue you into the neighborhood grapevine news about what is going on around the place.
  • Beware of the neighborhood busy body--not only will they tell you everyone's business, they will spread news about you far and wide as well.
  • Keep your doors, sliding doors, and windows locked. Apartments and condos provide an excellent opportunity for burglars as there are usually so many people coming and going that no one pays much attention. Never leave your doors and windows unlocked and give thieves/rapists an easy opportunity to enter your home.
  • Take care when you are bringing things (big new flat panel TV, a nice new rifle, a gun cabinet that can withstand a direct hit) into your home. Try to disguise these items as much as possible or move them in at night so as not to draw suspicion (and gossip) about you or make you a target for a future burglary.
  • Consider installing an alarm/surveillance system inside your home. You could go all out and get a complete wireless, remote-viewable, audio-video security system, but even a small alarm that shrieks when the window is opened may be enough to scare away a burglar.
  • Look as average as possible. One nice thing about living in the woods or even in the suburbs where you can drive discreetly into your garage is that you can come home in full camo and not raise the neighbors attention (because they won't see you). Coming home to an apartment this way may indeed scare the neighbors so change at the range or elsewhere before you return home.
  • Keep access to your crawl space/attic secured. It isn't unheard of for another tenant to access the attic through their unit, crawl over to your attic access, then jump down into your place and steal things. Make sure this can't happen.
  • Take care of the basics: never leave a key outside "just in case", don't put your name on your mailbox, keep a detailed inventory of your possessions, stop the newspaper if you will be gone for a period of time, etc.
  • If you are concerned about the security of your home, store very valuable items elsewhere (your parent's very secure house, in a safe deposit box, in your office which has 24-hour security, etc).
  • Take care when having private, personal conversations in your unit--the walls are often very thin and the neighbors may be able to hear you. Try to keep loud arguing and fighting to a minimum as well.
  • Check the walls--voyeurs like apartment buildings because the walls are connected, one small drill hole and a peep-hole type device and they are in business.
  • Keep your BOB in an easily accessible place in your home.
  • Use any unneeded space (under the bed, closets) to store extra food and water.
  • Keep "fold up" water containers on hand in case you need to quickly store some water in an emergency.
  • Have the same emergency equipment on hand as you would in a house--an ax to chop your way out of the building, a breaker bar to dislodge items strewn about after a tornado, a water purification system, work gloves to help you escape through a broken window, etc.
  • Be social but never give out detailed information about yourself.
  • Develop plans for what to do if a disaster common to your area happens: have a fire escape plan, ask the manager what the plan is for the building if a hurricane is imminent, find the safest place in your unit to ride out an earthquake, etc.
  • Use common sense in situations that can be dangerous (ie: walking up the stairs in a secluded stairwell, walking from your car to the elevator in a parking structure, using the laundry room in the middle of the night, etc).


  1. Great post.

    I do not live in an apartment building. Live on the subrs. . My friend lives in a apartment and he has followed my advise to park his P/u truck away from the building. In case of an eathqueke he'll have aznother place to go if the building collapses. he has chosen a secured parking for his BOV. With supplies in the camper shell.

    Thanks for your advise . I'll make another copy for my friend. and my son is looking your blog from now on. Hi Max.

    Thanks again.

  2. Thanks. Excellent advice you gave your friend too.