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Urban preps for the concrete jungle: what are your hacks?

NYC prepper here, wanting to open up some space for those of us who don’t have rural, off-grid locations or New Zealand villas in which to ride out ailments of the universe. What preps are you most proud of or what are some cool hacks you’ve figured out in dealing with small-space prepping? How have you adapted some of the standard prepping protocols for your own unique situation? Would be nice to have ongoing sharing and discussion.

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  • Comments (18)

    • 5

      Lived in NYC as well. I didn’t do it at the time, but have friends who have since used WaterBricks as furniture. Kind of a two birds one stone thing, given the limited space. They are pretty sturdy and stackable, so you can make a little end table and then put a piece of wood on top for the table surface, then drape a cloth over it. Looks kind of chic and can hold multiple weeks worth of water just in one little end table.

      Picture this, but cooler:

      We reviewed the WaterBrick and given it’s high price, this kind of limited-space situation was one of the few times we thought they were worth it. https://theprepared.com/homestead/reviews/best-two-week-emergency-water-storage-containers/

      • 3

        That’s pretty good using the water as a table base. I’m not sure I would trust the lids on their sides though.
        Try covering the containers with some nice cloth so no one can tell they’re under there.

        For me I have a few steps up to our entry door. I cut an access hole on the side and put the water under there. Then covered the hole with a door and a small padlock.

      • 2

        FWIW, in our testing I wasn’t comfortable with the seal on the side either. Didn’t directly notice any problems, but just don’t want water pressing against an exit for years. You could position them vertically so the cap is on top, but lose some stackability.

    • 5

      DC Metro Area, here.  A lot of it is just space maximization, like having a sofa with 6 inch legs freeing up room to store stuff underneath, or the hollow box-spring from ikea (again with the longest ‘legs’ I could buy for underneath storage).  Also, +1 to the water bricks, while not the cheapest option are really flexible (mine are on the bottom of my closet and I store stuff on top of them).

      Researching your local geography is a good idea too.  For example the nearest “stream” is also a combined sewer overflow – so like, I won’t be going there in desperate times, even if its the closest “natural” water source (gotta love “historic’ cities…).

      Frankly, part of it is a semi-fatalistic outlook… I figure if I need more than a month’s worth of supplies I’m probably SOL and/or “bugging out” to nearby relatives with more space.  I can’t really store more than a month’s worth so I just don’t worry about it beyond that, but a month is a lot more than many do.  Helps with budgeting too.

      Also, just trying to pay attention and being slightly-ahead of the curve.  I had 20 N95 masks on hand by summer 2019, more for a 9-11 like scenario (Pentagon isn’t too far from here… we had an anthrax scare not long afterwards) but thats obviously come in handy now.  I had “emergency food” in place back when demand was low (monitored prices, bought on sale!) and between watching the Netflix “Pandemic” special, rewatching “Contagion” and reading this site and the normal news thought to myself “hmmm… maybe hand sanitizer and *some* extra toilet paper would be a good idea” in January (rather than coming to that conclusion in March when everyone else around here did).  An extra month helps a lot, though that was more luck for me.

    • 4

      I recently heard people talk about sillcock keys to access urban water sources (like a water valve on a commercial building). Anyone done this?

      • 2

        I do carry them in my kits.  I found out about them while doing an urban adventure challenge.  They were very useful for refilling water from buildings we passed by.

      • 2

        Great idea! (Note to self!)

        I just ordered one for water, gas, and electric.

      • 1

        Now I’m wondering if I got the right thing… If anyone in this thread can provide a little guidance, it would be very helpful.

        https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B072LPLKP6/

    • 6

      Study your terrain. In a city you’re in a three dimensional world, rooftops above and metro/sewer/water systems below. Learn how to exploit the full potential of place. In urban combat often the street is the most dangerous place to be. Using unseen routes high above or underground change the map.

      • 3

        Excellent point about being more 3D!

      • 5

        Brilliant. If I have to get out of my city, I am going to sneak out via the river/forest that flows through it. I can stock up on water and tinder if necessary.

      • 2

        And definitely consider bike paths and park hiking trails as options.

    • 4

      IMO the number one most overlooked urban prep is a good set of bolt cutters, and generally anything that lets you create access is good. If SHTF in a big city, you’ll want to be able to get into locked and secured structures for supplies, shelter, hiding, etc. So bolt cutters, a demolition tool (like a tactical tomahawk), and so on are my main urban prep recommendations that I think are often overlooked.

      • 2

        Agreed.  I keep bolt cutters in my truck at all times.

      • 2

        Great idea! (Note to self!)

    • 3

      I’m in NYC also. One challenge many of us city dwellers have when sheltering in place in a pandemic compared to suburbanites is getting laundry done. I don’t have laundry facilities in my building, so I usually go to a laundromat, but self-service ones are closed now. Drop-off or pick up/delivery (contactless) are available, but that gets to be expensive just when finances are tight. So, I found on eBay a used “Wonder Wash,” a portable, hand-operated washing “machine.” It’s basically a drum you rotate by hand to agitate the clothes for a couple of minutes, then it drains into the tub. It’s surprisingly effective. I also got some no-rinse detergent which makes things easier, and I just ring everything out and put it on a drying rack. I’ve also seen a portable clothes agitator that basically looks like a plunger that you can use in the bathtub or in a bucket. Anyway, I do very small loads every couple of days, and then I don’t have to send laundry out that often.

      Laundry doesn’t seem to make it too often into prepping discussions. Obviously you can always just wash things by hand, this just makes it a lot easier.

    • 2

      I live in the biggest city in my state, but not the most urban part. My biggest fear is a fire, in an apartment complex any other bozo can burn down the building and all I could save is a BOB.

      • 2

        Funny you mention that; there was a small fire below us in my apt complex last night. It got caught before it was a disaster, but it made me think. If we’d had to run with nothing but the cat and a bug out bag, in the middle of a pandemic, that would certainly be doing it on ‘hard mode’.