Disaster Preparedness Tips For Renters
The West has earthquakes, the East has hurricanes and right smack in the middle is the infamous Tornado Alley. So what can you do about disaster preparedness when you’re living in a 700-square-foot apartment?
Obviously, preparation for each natural disaster is a little different, but one thing is certain: emergency preparedness is not just a concern for homeowners—renters are equally at risk. Here are some apartment-specific tips to get you started.
Create an Emergency Kit
Having a disaster supplies kit is a must. Here are some ideas on what to include in an emergency kit:
- Portable radio;
- Flashlight with extra batteries;
- First aid kit;
- Spare set of keys;
- Drinking water;
- Battery tester (I found one for $3 online, so this won’t break the bank); and
- Personal identification, credit card, cash and anything else of value to you.
If you’re on a budget, you can pick up many of these at your local dollar store.
Find storage spots for your supplies
Apartments are notorious for their space limitations. But you can find lots of storage opportunities if you get a little creative. Try storing your disaster supplies under the bed, in a closet, or even on top of the refrigerator.
If you’re feeling crafty, install a fun curtain in front of a bookcase and store your supplies there (or stash everything under a table and drape it with a tablecloth).
Meet the neighbors
Don’t wait until it’s too late to meet your neighbors! If you know your neighbors, you can team up and check on each other’s welfare. Be sure to work out an emergency meeting place in advance; if it’s too dangerous to meet outside the apartment building, designate the coffee house within walking distance as the rendezvous point.
Have an apartment evacuation plan
Navigating a high-rise apartment can be tricky. Be familiar with your building’s evacuation plan (it’s usually posted in the common areas), and map your options for getting out.
If you have to evacuate, leave your apartment quickly but calmly. Never take the elevator—always use the stairs (and know which doors lead to the street). Plan for a variety of escape routes in case some are blocked in an emergency.
Also: Mandatory means mandatory. If the authorities ask you to evacuate, don’t risk staying behind. Say it with me… better safe than sorry!
Take an inventory of your stuff
Do you have a list of everything you own? Or, know how much it would take to replace it if a disaster wiped out all your stuff? Using a home inventory checklist and documenting your personal belongings can pay big dividends should you ever need to make an insurance claim.
Survive a natural disaster
If all else fails … you need to know what to do if a natural disaster does hit:
- Surviving a tornado: Get low! If you can’t get low (as in a basement), get in the middle of the apartment. Protect yourself from falling objects with a blanket, mattress, etc. If you’re outside, get low and flat. Look around for a ditch or other low-lying area. And shield your head with your hands and arms.
- Surviving a hurricane or flood: Sandbags are a good idea, especially if you’re in a first-floor apartment (is this something building management can store?). Do not go outside during what appears to be the calm of the storm; winds change quickly and can cause injury.
- Surviving an earthquake: Just remember D-C-H: Duck, take Cover under a sturdy object (or move to an interior wall and protect your head), and Hold your position until the shaking stops.
Prepping for natural disasters isn’t on the top of most renters’ to-do lists. It may take some extra time and a bit of money, but the effort can make all the difference in the long run.
Guest blogger Rebecca Freeman writes on behalf of ForRent.com, the Nation’s Leading Apartment Resource.
Sources: www.osha.gov and www.fema.gov