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Hurricane Safety and Preparation Tips for Apartment Renters

By: Susan Finch
June 17, 2020

Hurricane season typically starts sometime in May and stretches through November. It can wreak havoc on your city.

Coastal dwellers are accustomed to hurricane emergencies. However, that doesn’t mean you’re immune from the risks if you live inland. It’s not uncommon to face intense tropical storms or a weakened hurricane. That’s the case even if you live states away from the coast.

Start preparing for a hurricane in an apartment now. That way, you can ensure you have everything you need to put your emergency storm plan into action.

What Are Mandatory Evacuations?

Mandatory evacuations are crucial when preparing for a hurricane. But what are they?

When government officials order a mandatory evacuation, it doesn't mean you’re legally bound to leave your apartment. However, you're agreeing that you don't expect to receive emergency services if you need them.

In some cases, local governments may set up temporary hurricane shelters at school gymnasiums and other buildings for people who need to evacuate but have nowhere to go.

A mandatory evacuation doesn't mean you can't call for help. However, it does mean officials are anticipating an escalating emergency that will make navigating roads, accessing power, and dealing with the hurricane damage insurmountable.

If you do leave during a mandatory evacuation, leave early to beat as much traffic as possible. Prep your apartment for potential damage.

What About Sea Level Pressure?

Apartments on the ground floors with waterfront views are coveted property. However, they can spell disaster during a hurricane.

The lower the sea level pressure, the higher the water will likely rise. Combined with heavy winds, you’ll likely have water inside your apartment.

Remember that even if you don’t live on the coast, you could still get rising, inland waters encroaching on your apartment building. Living near a lake or river could also mean trouble. Area water sources could flood and spill onto land.

What Supplies Should You Stock Up On?

Whether you stay and wait out the hurricane or flee for higher ground when preparing for a hurricane, you should still think about supplies to stock up on. Even some severe damage in the area could mean grocery trucks and deliveries will be delayed.

Not sure what to stock up on without panic buying? Here’s where to start:

  • One gallon of water per day, per person and pet
  • Emergency kit with First Aid supplies
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Necessary medications for anyone in the apartment, including pets
  • Extra batteries
  • Candles
  • Matches
  • A portable, hand-crank radio is also a bonus
  • Solar-powered battery that can charge up your devices
  • Canned goods
  • Dried fruit and jerky
  • Toilet paper
  • Paper towels
  • Clean towels

Need more ideas? Here’s how to create a DIY emergency kit for your apartment.

Last-Minute Food and Water Prep to Consider

In the event that the power goes out, your food won’t last in your fridge or freezer for long. If you have a grill or gas stove you can light, it’s possible you may still be able to cook up some frozen food.

Your best bet is trying to eat your food and beverages that are most likely to spoil before the hurricane hits instead of stocking up on more perishables.

Some hurricane-prep veterans also suggest leaving a bathtub of clean water filled up in an emergency. In case you need a water source in a pinch or extra water to clean-up, you have a supply ready to go.

What Paperwork Should You Keep Handy?

Paperwork is often the last thing on people’s minds when they storm prep. Scan or take photos of your car insurance, renter’s insurance, health insurance, passport, driver’s license, and any other necessary information documentation you may need, like prescriptions.

If you have a trusted partner or relative, you may want to consider mailing them copies or letting them know how to access it online in an emergency.

What to Do with Your Car

Cars are often swept down the street in storm surges when not secured properly. Depending on your apartment complex and location, you should speak to the property management first. They may recommend everyone moving their cars to higher levels in a parking garage or have a nearby option ready to go.

Otherwise, ask around about parking garages with multi-level, covered options. If nothing is available, park your car as far away from the waterfront as possible and away from trees to prevent damage.

How to Secure Your Windows During a Hurricane

Call your landlord or property manager and ask about their plans for securing windows or balcony doors. It’s wise to check your lease terms about natural disasters or storm prep before you call. They may offer up storm shutters, supplies, or already have a plan for preparing your apartment for a hurricane.

In the event you're on your own, you can look to secure plastic or heavy blankets over your windows and doors in a pinch. It may not strengthen your windows but could offer protection if they break.

How to Prepare Your Outdoor Space

You should remove and take everything inside from your outdoor space before a hurricane. Run through this checklist to make sure everything is secure:

  • Patio furniture
  • Bikes
  • Flower pots
  • Bird feeders
  • String lights
  • Toys

Clean Your Space

It may prove impossible to prevent water from entering your apartment during a hurricane. However, you can reduce the damage by removing items from the floor, around your doors, and alongside your windows.

If possible, put barstools and chairs on higher surfaces. Also, put your shoes and storage items on higher shelves. It’s also worth tucking towels along window sills and doors in the event the water surge is minimal.

How to Stay in Touch

Make sure you have a plan for keeping in touch and alerting friends, family, and colleagues to your whereabouts.

  • Update your social media
  • Tell relatives and friends
  • Check in with neighbors and trade contact info and plans
  • Get in touch with your boss and co-workers
  • Inform your landlord and property management

If you’re out of touch for days, your network should know what your plans are. Let them know that you’re either at home without power, at a friend’s in another state, or waiting it out in a local storm shelter.

What About an Emergency Fund?

Now that you’re done preparing your apartment for a hurricane, turn to your own finances to gather up an emergency fund. If possible, move as much money as possible in a savings account to access if you need to splurge on fresh supplies or replace big-ticket items. Gig workers will also need some reserves if they’re out of work for a few weeks due to a hurricane.

Find out more about what renter’s insurance covers.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you’re never faced with a dangerous hurricane. However, if you are, preparing your apartment for a hurricane can help you stay safe and reduce the damage. Stay safe!

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Susan Finch is a freelance writer and content manager focusing on local experiences, travel, and anything relating to really good food and craft brews. Her work has appeared in travel guidebooks and national magazines and newspapers. Read More
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