*CREATING STORAGE SPACE IN AN APARTMENT - #2 Planning*
By: Belinda
22 November 2006

Now that the purge is complete, it is time to sit down and make a goal for what you want to store, how long you need to store it, and plan for more than one scenario. You should already know from your lease what things are allowed in your apartment and what are not. You should re-read your lease, looking specifically for clauses that talk about fuel, grills, combustibles, ammunition, etc. You have to plan for where you live, because a week before the SHTF is NOT the time to get evicted because you broke your lease. You should also know what your renter's insurance policy clauses are as well, again paying attention to whether or not they will cover damages done by ammunition, fuel, etc... especially in regards to YOUR liability.

Once you make a basic list of the things you want to store, like food, water, fuel, ammunition, survival gear and other such items, it is time to break those items down so that you can get specific as to what you want to store, and how much storage you will need for each category.

FOOD: How much food do you want to store? Just enough for a month or for a year? Let's be realistic. If you are storing for hard times, like a lost job or wage decreases, you will want your food stores to last several months. That is a lot of food. 6 months of food takes time to accumulate as well, so your storage space will also have to be expandable. However, if you are planning on a long term SHTF scenario, how likely is it that you will remain in your apartment for a year without being evicted or overrun? Do you have the means of transporting a years worth of food, plus your other survival gear if you have to bug out?

Most people who live in apartments don't, so shooting for a stock of 6 months while putting aside items and/or knowledge/skills that have a bartering quality is a good goal for most people who live in apartments. Some food may have to be left behind if you have to bug out, but not as much as if you stocked for a year. What kind of food do you want to store? Will the food require regular rotation (as in, are you going to eat from this pantry) or is it just for emergency? I, like many Rubies, recommend storing what you eat, and eating what you store while having some things that need no heating or preparation to make as well. So, think about how many cans of veggies or pasta you eat in a month. How many packages of noodles do you eat? Make a list of the normal things you eat, how much you eat, and how it is packaged.

Packaging is very important here. If you set up your storage for the individual cans of corn and buy a #10 can of corn, you won't have any room. Many canned goods now come in convenient pantry dispensing boxes. Buying in bulk usually saves money, but if you won't eat 500 cans of squid in 6 months or before it goes bad, DON'T BUY IT. If you have no way to properly store items in bulk packaging (i.e. it needs to be refrigerated after opening), either divide it up into smaller packaging by canning or other method as soon as you buy it, or, again, DON'T BUY IT.

Because heating the food is often a consideration, focus on foods you can eat without preparing and also that don't need refrigeration. If you have 20 pounds of flour, but can't bake bread or use it to make anything, it is a waste of space and money for apartment dwellers. Have some of the basics like rice, beans, sugar and flour, but do not depend on those for survival in any situation other than falling on hard times unless you know how to prepare something with them and can transport them to a place that does have a reliable, safe, cooking method available. If you are in long term isolation and still have electricity, you will be very lucky and can use items that need to be cooked. If not, all that food you have that needs to be prepared will do you very little good.

While having a fuel burning stove like a coleman camping stove may seem like a good way to heat food, you have to have proper ventilation or you could experience a toxic level of carbon monoxide build up in an enclosed space like an apartment. Also, remember that air purifiers do NOT filter most gases out of the air. If it isn't safe enough for you to cook outside due to air contaminants or security reasons, forego the camp stoves all together. Remember also that the smell of cooking food will carry, especially if someone else is hungry.

If it is a simple power outage and you have an inverter/battery set up, you can cook with a small wattage heating plate or small microwave oven. Think 700 watts or less if you have an inverter that will take it and enough batteries. Experiment with how long it takes to bring say, soup to boil with the little burner on the inverter versus the microwave on the inverter. If it takes the same to power both, but the stove takes 9 minutes while the microwave takes 4, those extra minutes of battery time you are saving could mean the difference between one more warm meal or not. Being in an apartment usually means you don't have the outside space/setup for solar power to recharge those batteries, unless you are on a 2nd floor or higher balcony that faces south and gets a good deal of sunlight. Even then, it doesn't take much to put a ladder up against the side of your apartment to get to the panels, so security is a major issue for that. However, if you happen to be able to pull it off, you might be able to hide smaller 5 watt panels.

WATER: How much water do you want to store? Enough for 1 month? 1 year? Remember that you can store roughly 20 gallons worth of foldable 5 gallon carriers in the same space as three one gallon jugs of water. Also, if you use chlorine bleach to purify available water and optionally run the chlorinated water through a filtering water pitcher, like Britta, you have drinkable purified water available, it doesn't take electricity to do, and it is cheaper than those emergency water tablets, which run around $11 for 6 gallons of water purification, in my AO. There are many articles about how to purify water like this.

For a scenario that is a slow coming, long term isolation, you have plenty of time to fill containers. But again, remember that you probably won't be able to even stay in your apartment for more than 6 months (if even that) if there was a loss of infrastructure like electricity and water. If your local water supply is contaminated with poison and it takes a week to fix it, you don't have any time to fill the containers, but you also can just leave the area as soon as it is safe to do so if you run out of your bottled water before the situation is resolved.

In a SHTF situation, you should only plan on holding up until you can, as safely as possible, bug out with as much of your gear as possible. You should have at least a gallon of stored water a day for each person in your house for a month and up to three, and extra foldable carriers for longer term storage, so plan on space for both. If you have to bug out, the collapsible water containers and a bottle of bleach (with a way to fill the containers and measure the bleach) are easier to transport than 60 gallons of water and take up much less space. The idea is to optimize your space while maintaining your preps.

FUEL/AMMO: Storing fuel and ammo can be a big problem in an apartment. How much fuel do you plan on storing? Do you have an outside storage closet or balcony/patio that can be configured to safely store it? For what kind of scenario are you storing it? What about your ammunition? How do you plan on properly storing your arms and ammunition? One of the biggest problems is balancing what you will be able to take with you as well as what you have space in your apartment for. This is a personal decision on balancing what you personally feel you need to survive and can effectively utilize.

TOOLS/SURVIVAL EQUIPMENT: This is the part to take a hard look at facts. The only way you are going to survive long term in the urban apartment if the SHTF is to get out by automobile/boat as quickly and safely as possible. How far do you really think you will get with a 50 lb rucksack on foot without being seen, especially in a city? People won't even have to come out of their house to get what you have; they will just shoot you from the windows and sneak out later. The reason this comes into play is that if your food/water/survival items don't fit in your mode of transportation, it is a good likelihood that you will have to leave them behind. This is why it is so important to have a well rehearsed bug out plan and reliable people to be heading towards. If you are in the position that you are a part of a team and can trust another team member who will let you store bigger items, excessive amounts of fuel, ammo, food etc. with them, you should definitely consider it. There are articles on tickets that abound, and this might be the best option available for most apartment dwellers. Having said that, there are things, like that 50 lb rucksack, that have to be stored in the event that you can't bug out for a while. Make a list of the things that MAKE SENSE for you to store in your apartment in an emergency situation. Don't break up things that depend on each other for proper functioning obviously (ie don't store your batteries at a storage facility or other location and your inverter in your apartment). If you can use it to survive there, keep it there. If you have to take it somewhere else to use, keep it as close to that something else as you can, even if that means paying for excess storage or having a one year ticket with someone you trust. This does not include your BOBs obviously or anything that you can get into your transportation effectively.

At this point, you are realizing, my fellow apartment dwellers, that even after purging and only planning for 6 months of isolation instead of a year, you still have a ton of stuff that has to be stored. The next article in this series deals with designing and maintaining your storage to fit your space AND your stuff.
Belinda



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