How to Keep Your Apartment Safe This Holiday Season

While Santa would never face charges for breaking and entering while scurrying down the chimney, there are legit dangers lurking during the holiday season. And those dangers could very well be right where you live.

So that you can focus on holiday cheer and also remain protected and safe this holiday season, we’ve got some tips to help keep your apartment and belongings secure.

Prevent danger

Risky situations related to the holiday season aren’t limited to tempting criminals with packaged gifts left in front of doors. “Holiday mishaps that can cause issues for a renter and a rental property include fire hazards,” says Lynn Edmondson, Regional Manager of Wendover Management, a full-service property management company.

Edmondson recommends:

  • Avoid using more than three strings of lights on one extension cord because you don’t want to overload the circuits
  • Try flameless candles as an alternative to the real deal
  • Be sure to properly water natural decorations to proactively nix the chance of holiday lights sparking into a blaze

Prime time for crime

Planning on being out of town for Christmas? If you’ll be away for three days or more, then there’s a pretty good chance that anyone with intent to steal could realize that no one’s home and come knocking.

Do what you can to not be vulnerable to package theft, break-ins and loss. Make sure you keep windows and doors securely locked, and that gifts under your Christmas tree are out of view from anyone passing by who might be looking for an easy mark.

Scouting for loot

Gifts left at your door for back-to-back days in a row are a pretty obvious sign to a would-be-package snatcher that there’s no one home.

If you’re expecting deliveries from UPS, FedEx or Amazon, you might consider arranging for those packages to arrive elsewhere in your absence. If you’ve ordered online, you have the power to decide where the packages end up. Be strategic and have deliveries sent to a friend, the rental office of your apartment building or your workplace.

Here are a few ideas to help keep your packages safe:

  • Amazon has lockers around the country where you can have packages delivered. You get an email alert that your order is ready for pickup. You’ve got three days to retrieve the package before it gets returned to Amazon.
  • Make friends with your neighbors. Notify them that you’ll be away for the holidays. Ask if they could check for any deliveries and hold the packages for you.
  • Make sure all entryways and hallways are well lit so you can see if any intruders are lurking and to dissuade anyone with criminal intent from getting too close.

Keep your apartment safe

If your community has a visible security presence where you live, that’s a powerful antidote to holiday crime. A key fob to enter the gate of your rental community or to park in the garage is also a good deterrent from unwelcome intruders.

However, as a tenant, you can take additional steps to stay safe and keep your apartment protected. If you’re renting an individual townhouse, apartment unit or a single-family home, there are plenty of choices for security systems through third parties, according to Wendover Management. “Remember to always speak with your landlord prior to making any changes to the home you are renting,” says Edmondson.

Place a security sticker from a company such as ADT on the door or window of your apartment. This is helpful if you have an exterior apartment door that someone can easily walk up to without the hindrance of a security gate or entry code required.

Install a DIY system with a visible HD camera directed at a walkway, your front door or driveway. Since it’s connected directly to an app on your phone, you’ll be pinged if there’s someone approaching your door and you’ll be able to see in real time if someone is trying to swipe something.

Lynn Edmondson has one last piece of advice for apartment dwellers: Be aware that not everyone has the best intentions. Ensure that you take steps to protect yourself and your home. Enjoy the holidays!”




5 Playground Safety Tips to Keep Your Children Safe

If you share your apartment with small children, then you’re probably all about having quality time with your kids. Finding the right place to live happily as a busy family means having adequate on-site green space and a dedicated playground for your little people.

So that everyone can stay safe, we have some tips to help your kids avoid hazards and just have fun.

1. Summertime heat

It’s critical to have shade where playground equipment is located. Summer temperatures don’t need to be scorching in the 90-degree zone for equipment to get too hot to touch.

Parents should always check if equipment feels too hot for your little one to play on. Metal slides, a metal chain on a swing set, or even the adorable spring rider shaped like a lady bug could heat up into the triple digits from noon to 5 p.m., the hottest hours of the day.

Monitor the time of day for romps on the playground. The morning or after dinner are sensible considerations.

2. Supervision is a no-brainer

Whether it’s you or the babysitter keeping a supervisory eye, your kids should never be left alone on playground equipment. Texting, chatting with a neighbor or petting a dog could mean you’re nothing short of oblivious. In an instant, playtime turns to chaos when a little one decides to stand or kneel on a swing when no one was watching.

3. Location, location, location

Where the playground is located on the property is pivotal to maintaining a safe space for your kids to be kids.

  • Is there a quality fence with a gate around the play area? Is the fencing intact? Are there any sharp edges that catch on clothing? As a precaution, kids should never wear drawstring hoodies while playing.
  • Is there a pool on the property? Is it enclosed with a kid-safe latch and far enough from the playground that kids can’t enter the area and accidentally fall in?
  • Is there traffic close by? Is the playground near the main road or a parking garage that kids could run toward if chasing after a ball?

4. Mulch much?

Shoddy surfacing is a playground threat. At least 12-inches of proper cushioning material is key to kids’ safety while at play, according to the National Safety Council. Will wood mulch or wood chips be the best choice for protecting children around a playset?

While mulch is so much better than asphalt or concrete for avoiding cuts and bruises, it does have a downside. Negative factors include splinters, mold developing when wet, and in cold temperatures, if it freezes, it doesn’t provide much of a soft landing spot. Wood chips may also contain chromated copper arsenate (CCA), a wood preservative treatment that could be a potential health worry.

An alternative to wood much includes rubber/vinyl mulch. It’s splinter-free, immune to mold growth and it’s long lasting. Plus, kids love it because it’s colorful.

5. Safety first

Screws, hooks and bolts poking out of spots where kids play could be an eye injury waiting to happen. If the playground is mostly made of wood, there could be a risk for rotted splinters. Wooden swing seats are a no-no and should be replaced with a softer material.

Since safety is always first, you have every right to ensure that your kids won’t suffer injuries:

  • Structures should be 30-inches high and spaced at least 9-feet apart.
  • Tot swings with full bucket seats should have their own bay.
  • A child’s head and other body parts might get trapped if the equipment doesn’t have proper openings, such as ladder rungs. Openings should measure no less than 3.5- inches and/or be more than 9-inches in width. The National Safety Council reports that monkey bars have such a high incidence of injury, that they have no place on a playground.

If you’re certain the playground where you dwell (or want to live) checks off all the boxes, then enjoy it to the fullest. Your kids will be happier if you can play and be outdoors together as a family.




What to Do if There’s a Fire in Your Apartment Building

Within minutes, small flames can spread and grow into a deadly fire. Preparation is a great way to help reduce the risk of panic in any emergency. Experts say to be quick, but also be in control. And while a blaring alarm system can be nerve-wracking, it also acts a powerful lifesaver.

To prepare for a fire, you should think about how you would get out of the building long before the alarm rings. Know the fire safety features where you live. Your leasing office or property manager should also share insights. Occupants should all be aware of what it takes to keep the building as fire-safe as possible.

The threat is real

According to the National Fire Protection Association Journal, there were 95,000 apartment fires in 2017 — 19 percent of the structure fire total for the year. Sadly, 2,630 people died as a result of home fires that year.

house fire statistichouse fire statistic

Source: Reader’s Digest

It’s a good idea to be proactive. If you see a damaged smoke alarm or broken glass on a fire extinguisher case, don’t ignore it. Let your apartment building maintenance team know right away.

If you notice smoke or a fire in your unit or building, follow these steps to stay safe.

1. Stay calm

There’s a natural inclination to get out as soon as possible. But you could actually be putting yourself in more danger trying to do that. If the fire has spread, it could be a no-win choice.

Fire safety begins with you. Be prepared for how you’ll react and protect yourself, your kids and pets. It’s critical to know the location of exits on your floor. If one is blocked due to smoke and fire, you should know what your alternative options are.

Some basic fire safety prep on your part includes:

  • Don’t exit your apartment without your keys. If you have to turn back because of flames in the hallway and smoke in the stairwell, or a blocked entry, you need your key to get back into your apartment.
  • Always check a doorknob before opening it. Heat is an indicator of a blaze behind the door. Knowing how to tell if a door is safe to open during a fire could save your life.
  • Know where all the exit doors and stairs are on your floor
  • Never take an elevator. If the stairs are a clear and safe option, use them.
  • Get down low if there’s smoke in a hallway, it will be easier for you to breathe if you stay lower down to the ground
  • Be sure to count the number of doors there are between your apartment and the nearest fire exit
  • Learn your building’s evacuation plan
  • Practice an escape drill for your apartment. This is especially important if you have kids and/or pets. Determine a place outside where everyone should meet if you get separated.
  • If a fire starts spreading, remember that your goal is to escape

2. Call 911

If you see or smell smoke, call 911. Let them know where you are in the building. If you’re in a massive building on fire, your location can help firefighters get to you if you’re unable to get out on your own.

3. If you have to leave, stay low to the ground

If you’re in the thick of smoke, move quickly, covering your head and hair. Keep your head down (12- to 24-inches above the floor) and close your eyes as often as possible. Smoke and poisonous air can hurt more people than the actual flames do, so crawl low under smoke to your exit.

4. If you can’t leave, stay where you are

First responders say that if your apartment is not threatened, you should stay put. Be sure to put wet towels, rags, bedding or tape under your doors. And cover any vents in your apartment to help limit smoke from coming in.

No matter what, don’t break a window and don’t try to jump out of your apartment. Wait for first responders to arrive.

If you’re outside of the building, don’t go in. Wait until firefighters tell you it’s safe to go back before returning home. If you think a neighbor or pets are still inside the apartment building, tell the firefighters. Be sure to let them know where you think they are inside the apartment complex.

Toddler and pet rescue stickers can help firefighters

toddler stickerstoddler stickers

Source: Amazon

As part of your prep work, be sure to put a window cling or sticker on all entry doors or windows that say how many children or pets you have in your home. Don’t leave anything up to chance. Stickers are a warning technique to let firefighters know there might be kids or animals trapped inside. You can buy these stickers online for just a few dollars.

Be sure that the rescue stickers you use come in a reflective material. This way, if a flashlight or other light shines on it, a firefighter will see it. It’s a good idea to check with your property manager first to make sure you’re allowed to hang stickers.

Renters insurance can help with damages

Depending on your renters insurance policy, fire damage is likely covered. It should be part of your policy’s personal property loss coverage. If a fire makes your apartment uninhabitable, check your policy. It should have a loss-of-use provision to cover any of your extra living expenses. Ensure that smoke damage is also part of the policy.

Make fire safety a habit

The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) reports that apartment fires are the result of everyday activities. Think cooking, heating, using appliances and electrical malfunctions. Keep an apartment fire safety guide close by for easy reference.

The threat of fire is constant. By developing safer habits you can help to reduce your risk. Always take precautions and have a fire action plan you can rely on.




The Most Common States for Earthquakes (And How You Can Stay Safe)

If you were to guess which state has the most earthquakes per year, many would assume California. And they would be wrong. Alaska is the champion when it comes to the frequency of earthquakes. Alaska outranks California and every other state in the number of quakes and greatest magnitude achieved.

Where are earthquakes most common

Looking at the state-by-state report of earthquakes over magnitude 3.5 from the USGS, Alaska amounts to 57 percent of all earthquakes in the United States. That’s more than 12,000 earthquakes in 30 years! Not surprisingly, the 10 states with the most earthquakes are in the western U.S.

states with the most earthquakesstates with the most earthquakes

This chart doesn’t take into account the damage caused by earthquakes. Alaska is a vast state with a small population, so many of these quakes are centered in rural areas away from people. Some earthquakes on the Aleutian Islands are in areas so remote they might not even be recorded. On the other hand, earthquakes in California are more likely to be located in more populated areas.

While the west coast is the most active region, there are other parts of the country susceptible to earthquakes. For example, The New Madrid Seismic Zone is shared between five states (Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas). If this was counted as one state it would rank 11 on the list.

Fun fact: There were no earthquakes above magnitude 3.5 reported in Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Maryland, North Dakota, Vermont and Wisconsin from 1974 to 2003.

Many are certain that standing in a doorway during the shaking is a good idea. That’s false unless you live in an unreinforced adobe structure. Otherwise, you’re more likely to be hurt by the door swinging wildly in a doorway or trampled by people trying to hurry outside if you’re in a public place.

Before an earthquake

earthquake prep kitearthquake prep kit

  • Create an emergency action plan for your household. This should include a specific meeting place where family members will gather should they become separated. For example, those living in apartments could meet at a nearby playground or other open space. Residents of single-family homes could meet in the backyard.
  • Make sure all family members are familiar with the “Drop, Cover and Hold On” technique. Drop to the floor, cover your head with your arms and hold on to something sturdy. Stay there until the quake subsides.
  • A readily available emergency preparedness kit can be a literal lifesaver. At a minimum, it should include sufficient food and water for the family for at least three days. Additionally, include necessary medications for family members and enough food and water for pets. Other items such as flashlights, batteries, a fire extinguisher and a portable radio will help round out your emergency preparedness kit and provide for basic needs in the event of many types of emergencies.
  • If possible, fasten things like television sets, shelves and other household items to a permanent fixture, such as a wall. During an earthquake, unfixed objects tend to fall and can cause serious injury.
  • Earthquake insurance coverage will help you rebuild and recover from earthquake damage. Most standard homeowners’ and renters’ insurance policies don’t cover earthquake damage. For those living in apartments, even if the landlord has an earthquake insurance policy, your possessions won’t be covered. Purchasing your own policy will help as you work to recover.

During an earthquake

person hiding under tableperson hiding under table

  • Remember the “Drop, Cover and Hold On” technique and use it. Wait until the shaking stops before attempting to help others.
  • If you’re inside, stay there until the shaking stops. Major earthquakes can cause many unforeseen hazards. Attempting to navigate them while the tremor is ongoing increases your chances of injury.
  • Avoid elevators. Power outages may prevent them from working properly, which could lead to being trapped inside. The aftermath of a major tremor places a severe strain on emergency services, so you may find yourself stuck there for some time.
  • If you’re driving, pull off to the side of the road as far away as you can get from any buildings, overpasses, and other structures that could fall, then remain in your car. When you do resume driving, take it slow and be mindful that debris may be found on the roadways.

After an earthquake

earthquake damageearthquake damage

  • Remember your emergency action plan. If household members are missing, go to the predetermined meeting location and wait for them there.
  • Stay away from damaged buildings and debris. If you’re inside of a damaged structure, move outside as quickly as possible once the shaking has stopped. Go to an open area away from tall buildings and power lines.
  • Remember that aftershocks frequently follow large earthquakes. If you feel an aftershock begin, remember the “Drop, Cover and Hold On” technique.
  • Emergency response systems experience great strain in the aftermath of even relatively small earthquakes. Phone systems may be overwhelmed with very high call volumes, and emergency vehicles will need to quickly reach those in need. Use phones and roads for emergencies only so that those urgently in need of assistance can receive it faster.
  • If you find yourself trapped, make as much noise as possible so that rescuers can locate you. Do your best to remain calm and breathe.

Experiencing an earthquake is a frightening prospect for anyone. The magnitude of the damage can be significant, particularly in areas of high population density. However, by following earthquake safety guidelines and planning ahead, you can maximize your chances of survival and minimize the impact for you and your loved ones.

Additional resources




Safety Tips for Moving in the Summer Heat

While moving to a new home can take place at any time of year, there is, in fact, a busy season.

“Most Americans move between May and September, so if you’re looking for options, the best time to move is probably going to be during the spring and summer months,” says Niccole Schreck, from U.S. News and World Report. In fact, moving companies often reach “pandemonium” levels of busy between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

This time of year is so popular because it presents a lull for many people where it’s easier to move. Recent high school graduates are moving to college housing for the first time, and younger children are on summer break. Moving now won’t interrupt the academic year. The weather is also usually better, making it a more preferable time to be outside. Unfortunately, it’s also a time when things can get dangerously hot.

1. Avoid peak times of day

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the hottest time of day is actually 3 p.m. Temperatures hit a higher level later in the day because heat builds up throughout the early afternoon. As the day gets later, the heat begins to drop and things cool down. Too much exposure to this stockpile of hot weather can lead to some serious issues, including:

  • Heat rash: Appearing as red clusters, pimples or small blisters, heat rash happens when sweat gets trapped under your skin. The rash often develops where skin naturally creases or folds. Treat heat rash by keeping the area dry and cool.
  • Heat exhaustion: Caused by excessive sweating, heat exhaustion occurs when your body loses too much water or salt. There are an array of symptoms associated with heat exhaustion, including headaches, nausea, dizziness, thirst and heavy sweating.
  • Heat stroke: A potentially life-threatening illness, heat stroke requires immediate medical attention. It occurs from a rapid rise of your temperature into dangerous levels. Symptoms include confusion, slurred speech, fainting, hot or dry skin and seizures.

heat stroke symptomsheat stroke symptoms

Source: Science Care

Start your move as early in the morning as possible to avoid these heat-related illnesses. Try to get as much moving out of the way before the late afternoon hits.

2. Focus on continual hydration

Moving requires a lot of exertion. Even if you’ve hired a moving company, you can still spend most of the move running around, going up and down stairs and transporting small items. You’re working hard, and in the summer heat, that means sweating.

Moving can demand the same exertion as a heavy workout, where it’s recommended you drink two to four glasses of fluids each hour. Since it can be easy to lose track of time while moving, make sure to watch out for signs of dehydration: fewer trips to the bathroom, very dry skin, dizziness, rapid heartbeat or breathing and sleepiness.

Make sure you have a lot of water or non-sugary sports drinks on hand. Toss a cooler of beverages into your trunk for easy access. As long as you’ve turned on the water in your new place by moving day, you can also keep a water bottle accessible to refill.

3. Protect yourself from the sun

Most tips for moving focus on how to safely lift boxes to protect your body, but when moving in the summer, you also need to protect your skin. The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and your skin needs protection during this period.

Sunscreen is your best option, especially if it’s too hot to cover up with long sleeves or pants. Select a broad-spectrum, sport or sweat-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, and don’t forget to reapply.

Pay special attention to sensitive areas like the tops of your ears and your scalp, along with hands and feet. Also, don’t forget to protect your eyes from the sun with sunglasses. Eyes are especially sensitive to sun damage, and too much exposure can lead to serious issues.

4. Keep away from excessive heat

Certain items transfer better from one home to the next when kept out of extreme heat. This can mean really hot temperatures, as well as long exposure to more moderate heat.

Remember, moving vans have no ventilation. They can get hot. Too much heat can lead to warping, melting or even a decrease in a product’s effectiveness. Specific items that don’t do well in the heat of a move include:

  • Wooden furniture
  • Electronics
  • Photos and documents
  • Artwork
  • Candles
  • Medicine
  • Batteries

To keep these items safe, reduce the time they’re outside or in a hot moving van. If you can transport anything by car, do so since you’ve got the power of an AC to protect your things.

Additionally, make sure the AC is working in your new home before you arrive. You can also purchase a few portable box fans, too, if you’re concerned about temperatures in your new place.

Stay safe during your summer move

Moving in the summer is usually your best bet to find a home that’s affordable and available. Taking the proper precautions to keep yourself healthy and your stuff protected, no matter how high the thermometer rises, is essential to having a successful move.




How to Prepare Your Apartment Before a Hurricane Evacuation

What do the residents of states including Florida, Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, the Carolinas and sometimes even New York have in common? Come summertime, it’s storm season, which means the potential for a hurricane evacuation is real.

Just because you don’t live in the hurricane hot spots doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be ready for hurricanes. Every state along the Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico has had a landfall from a hurricane since records were first kept in 1851.

States where hurricane strikes are most commonStates where hurricane strikes are most common

Source: CNN

Ordered evacuation is no joke. When authorities tell you to get out of the storm’s path, you should. But hurricane forecasting is a long game, which means there’s no reason you can’t prepare your apartment ahead of time.

Read on for a list of tips you can do well ahead of any forming storms (this means at the start of the season) and those best done before locking your doors and heading out of Dodge.

Before the storms come

Even before hurricanes form out in the middle of the ocean, you should take these steps to start preparing.

Have a plan

If you live in a hurricane zone, evacuations can happen. Identify one or more people with whom you can stay if you have no choice but to leave home. Knowing where you’re headed will take a lot of stress out of the situation ahead of the bad weather.

Get insured

It’s likely you’re already carrying mandatory renters insurance, but does your policy include clauses for wind, water and weather? Get it out of your files before hurricane season and make sure you’ll be covered in the event that a serious storm rips through your rental community.

Make a kit

This article deals with evacuation, but in the event the storm in your area doesn’t require you to leave, it’s always good to have an emergency supply kit on hand, especially if something prevents you from leaving.

Shutter up

Check with your property management company to find out if the buildings in your complex are fitted for hurricane shutters that will be installed prior to any named-storm threats.

Are you on the ground floor? Ask if they are prepped with sandbags. If the answer is no, find out whether you’re allowed to outfit your unit, or the entry points around it, with your own.

Take pictures

If your apartment is damaged, you’ll want to have proof of the condition it was in pre-evacuation in the event you need to make a claim. Take pictures of everything from televisions and gaming systems to your collection of expensive shoes, furniture, small appliances, clothing, you name it. One broken window could leave your entire apartment blown apart. Video is a good idea, as well.

Before you evacuate

If an evacuation is ordered in your area or you just want to leave to be safe, here are a few things you should do in your apartment to prevent damage and make your evacuation less stressful.

Shut the doors

According to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, shutting the interior doors of your apartment can help depressurize your apartment if a window is broken amid the storm. Their research in a 1,400-square-foot, single-story home showed that closing interior doors reduced the extra load the air pressure put on the roof by 30 percent. This is an especially good idea if you’re on the top floor.

Secure outside items

Whether your unit has a balcony or a patio, you’ll want to move all the items — plants, furniture, rugs, bicycles or anything else — inside before you go.

Elevate anything that can be destroyed by water

This is especially important if you’re on the bottom floor. Remove anything valuable from lower shelves (pictures, books, etc.) and put them in a higher place. If your apartment floods, there will be damage anyway, but at least this way you can try to keep some of your items safe.

Shut off your utilities

If you have access to your water and gas shutoffs to your apartment, turn them off before you leave. This will help prevent any additional damage if pipes burst. Chances are your apartment will lose power anyway during the storm. But FEMA still recommends that you shut off your electricity at your circuit breaker.

Mind your binder

Big hurricanes can be big trouble. Make sure you take the easy-to-move valuables like heirloom jewelry, photo albums and anything irreplaceable with you.

Additionally, get a binder in which to place all your important paperwork, such as birth certificates, passports, health insurance, renter’s insurance, credit cards and any other important document you have.

Related: What to Pack During a Hurricane Evacuation

Bring your pets

Don’t leave your animals behind in the event of an evacuation! Remember rule No. 1 is to have a plan. That plan should include your whole family, which includes pets. If you can’t find a pet-friendly place in which to stay until you’re cleared to return to your apartment, make alternate plans for your animals so that they can be safe when the weather gets rough.

Know where to get storm updates

Regions where hurricanes are common all have emergency organizations with which residents can connect for information before, during and after a storm. These include the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and North Carolina Office of Public Safety. Know yours and get connected.

Additionally, FEMA has a mobile app where users can get safety tips, alerts, shelter locations and more.

Safety first

The more prepared you are before a storm comes, the easier it will be for you to evacuate when the time comes. When an evacuation is issued, you should plan to leave as soon as possible. If you wait too long, you will have to deal with more traffic and potentially life-threatening weather.

Consider your safety first. If you don’t think you can safely leave because you waited too long or another reason, make plans to hunker down and ride out the storm.




Summer Storm Safety Tips for Your Apartment Complex

As summer approaches, so does storm season. Severe weather can often be very unpredictable and require incredibly expensive repairs, so it’s a great idea to have a storm safety plan in place.

Most natural disasters and severe weather just cause localized problems, but there are always a few events each year that result in widespread damage. Many of these larger severe weather events occur during the summer months. In fact, nearly half of all of the billion-dollar weather events in 2018 struck between May and September.

weather disaster mapweather disaster map


Keeping yourself safe in your apartment during severe weather

While it’s important to have a personalized safety plan no matter where you reside, if you live in an apartment complex that plan will be a little different than those for people who live in houses.

To get you ready for the summer, here are some apartment complex storm safety tips that will make sure you stay safe if an emergency strikes.

1. Know your apartment complex’s emergency exits and storm protocols

If, for any reason, you find yourself having to leave your apartment unit during severe weather, knowing where every shelter and fire exit in the complex is crucial. Have your leasing agent explain storm safety and evacuation plans.

2. Designate shelters in your own unit

Depending on the style of your complex, you may not always have access to a shelter outside of your unit. Make sure you designate a location inside your home, preferably with no windows, where you can go if a storm causes you to be unsafe by windows or doors.

To prepare for a serious storm, make sure you keep a mattress or large piece of furniture by your designated safe spot so you can take cover under it if you need to protect yourself from debris.

3. Prepare a severe weather safety kit

Because severe weather can begin unexpectedly, it’s a great idea to have a safety kit ready at all times. In addition to first aid items like bandaids, gauze, gloves and disinfectant, add things like a flashlight and batteries, a portable radio, nonperishable food and water bottles, cash and a list of emergency contacts and phone numbers.

Keep all these items together in a large, clear bin so you’re not frantically looking for something you really need if the time ever comes. Storm safety experts recommend keeping a 10-day supply of all food, water and safety items.

4. When weather gets severe, get low

If tornadoes or debris become a concern during bad weather and you live in a high-rise or on a high floor, take shelter somewhere as low as you can possibly go.

According to Accuweather:

“Two of the most fundamental precautions that you can take in the event of a tornado, no matter where you are, is staying low to or below the ground in an interior space away from windows and covering your head with your hands and arms.”

If it becomes impossible to get to a lower floor, go somewhere as close to the middle of the building, as far away from windows and doors as possible, preferably in a very small room. Closets, bathrooms, laundry rooms and hallways may be safe options.

Cover yourself with as much protection (like furniture, cushions or a mattress) as you can. It might be a good idea to put a plan in place with neighbors on lower floors if your complex doesn’t have a designated safe-zone and you live on a high floor.

5. Bring the outdoors in and protect windows and doors

If you have a balcony or patio area, bring in any outdoor furniture, decorations, planters or other items that can become storm debris if winds get intense. For hurricanes and intense storms, put shutters up on any sliding glass doors and windows to protect windows from any debris and any impending damage.

If you’re a renter, make sure you know ahead of time whether your landlord provides shutters for you so you’re not stuck purchasing and installing them with the short notice of a bad storm.

6. Have a plan for your vehicle

Especially if your apartment complex doesn’t offer covered parking, figure out somewhere safe and covered for you to park your car or motorcycle while you ride out the storm.

Cars parked outside are likely to incur damage from flying debris, and there’s nothing worse than finding your car destroyed by tree trunks or your neighbor’s outdoor gnome collection after a rough storm.

7. Double check your insurance coverage

If worst comes to worst, you might find yourself with a lot of damage to your unit or personal items and will need to file a claim with your insurance. This is one of the many reasons why renter’s insurance is always a good idea to have, even if your landlord or apartment complex doesn’t require you have it.

Likewise, if you own your unit, ensure you have an adequate insurance plan on your home. Double check your coverage and protocol for filing a claim when you know a storm is coming so you have one less thing to do when you’re cleaning up its aftermath.




The Difference Between Tornado Watches and Warnings

Tornadoes are scary to think about. We don’t have any control over when they occur or how much damage they cause. While we can’t stop them from impacting our towns and homes, we can control our reactions and be prepared for extreme conditions. It’s important to educate yourself on tornado safety to at least keep yourself from being hurt if a tornado does come along.

Tornadoes can happen everywhere

There are certain states that are more prone to tornadoes than others. This area of the country is known as Tornado Alley and generally covers the Great Plains from South Dakota down to Texas.

tornado alley maptornado alley map

Source: Accuweather

However, there are other areas of the country that tend to see more tornadoes than average. Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia — an area referred to as Dixie Alley — are at risk of severe storms in the Spring. Tornadoes are also common in Florida during hurricane season when those storms make landfall. In fact, tornadoes have been reported in all 50 states.

So, even if you don’t live in one of the most tornado-prone areas, you should familiarize yourself with the difference between a tornado watch and warning. For good measure, you should also know what a PDS watch and tornado emergency are.

Tornado watch

When there’s a watch, it means you need to start preparing. A tornado hasn’t been spotted yet, but one could develop in your area over the next few hours.

Watch the weather conditions and notice changes in the clouds and wind speeds. Common signs that a tornado might be coming are dark, low clouds that are either rotating or have a green or orange tint, large hailstones and winds that are loud and sound like a freight train.

Keep up with your local news and weather stations for updates on conditions. A watch can be issued hours before a tornado shows up, so make good use of the time you’re given to prepare. Make sure you have a 72-hour kit and keep it somewhere accessible. Go over your emergency plan and know where you can take shelter if needed, such as a basement or lower floor in your apartment building or any other building with a solid foundation.

Particularly dangerous situation (PDS) tornado watch

While any tornado is dangerous and should be taken seriously, a particularly dangerous situation (PDS) watch is issued when it’s believed that violent tornadoes or an outbreak are likely in your area.

These watches are rare but should be taken very seriously. If a PDS watch is issued in your area, you need to think about changing plans so you’re near a secure place should bad weather approach.

Tornado warning

If a warning has been issued, that means a tornado was picked up by radar or was spotted visually. Tornadoes can form quickly and, unlike a watch, a warning can be issued with just minutes to spare.

In fact, the average warning time is only 13 minutes before the storm reaches you. This means it’s time to take action in order to keep yourself safe.

The first thing you should do is take shelter right away. Get out of any car or mobile home, if possible, and into a sturdy building. Most deaths and injuries that result from tornadoes are caused by flying debris, so you need to get into a safe, closed space where your chances of being hit by flying objects are reduced.

Don’t think you can drive faster than a tornado — you can’t. Go to the nearest secure house or building and stay on the lowest level possible. If you’re outside and not near a stable building, find a ditch or lower ground, lie face-down and cover your head with your hands.

Remember, tornado warnings can be issued even if a watch hasn’t been, so pay attention to changing weather conditions and take any alerts seriously.

Tornado emergency

If a tornado has already formed, it can begin to pick up speed, become larger and ultimately, be more destructive. Most of the time, tornadoes form over rural areas, but big tornadoes can stay on the ground for hours and might approach more populated areas. In this case, a tornado emergency tells people in its path that a dangerous storm is heading their way and they need to act without delay.

preparing for a tornadopreparing for a tornado

Preparing for weather

Always be alert and proactive to keep yourself safe from any type of natural disaster. Watch or read the local news to stay up-to-date on weather conditions and make sure you have an emergency plan in place. Prepare a 72-hour kit and keep a small supply of food storage on hand at all times — you can never be too prepared for a serious situation.

You never know when a tornado, or any disaster, will strike, but if you’re prepared, you’ll be much better off than if not!




How to Prepare Your Apartment if You Are Staying During a Hurricane

The summer is fast approaching, and for those who live in areas where big storms are an issue, it’s time to get ready.

In fact, recent scientific data from multiple sources, including the NOAA/Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, notes that the strongest hurricanes occurring in regions that include the North Atlantic have increased in intensity over the past few decades. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll make landfall, but that could be worrisome for renters living along the coast.

hurricane landfall charthurricane landfall chart

Source: Statista

Apartment hurricane preps are essential for those of us living in multifamily communities, in particular, if you don’t live in a mandatory evacuation zone and plan on hunkering down when the big winds blow through. Hurricane season is no joke and the Boy Scout rule to be prepared most definitely applies.

Read on for a list of things to get done now, because June 1 will be here before you know it!

Download the apartment hurricane preparation checklist

Sound structure

Take a look at your windows, doors and breezeways. Is everything in good shape?

  • Report to management anything that’s amiss, from loose siding to leaky windows. If panels or shutters are available for windows or glass sliders, get them installed.
  • Don’t forget to bring in anything you might have on your patio or balcony, from furniture to plants to wind chimes. Secure them inside your outdoor storage closet if you have one or bring it all inside.
  • Do you live on the top floor? Consider hunkering down with a neighbor downstairs, if possible.

Stock up

After massive storms like Maria or Harvey, some residents in the storm’s path went without power and supplies for extended periods. According to the Washington Post, nearly 4,000 Houston-area homes were without power some three weeks after Hurricane Harvey ripped through in 2017 and there were more than 75 boil-water notices in effect.

Depending on the size of your apartment, it could be challenging, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends storing 10 days’ worth of supplies to ensure you’ll have enough if help doesn’t arrive immediately.

  • Buy nonperishable items (canned soup, canned meat or fish, peanut butter, jelly, etc.) that will keep well. Following a serious storm, you may be without power. If you have limited kitchen space, store items under beds, in closets or wherever necessary.
  • Buy lots of drinking water in gallon jugs or plastic bottles.
  • Fill your bathtubs with tap water. This is used for flushing toilets and washing if your water supply is damaged or cut off by the storm.

Essential non-food items to have on hand

Ensure you have these necessities available and sealed in a watertight container or bag.

  • Prescription medication
  • Disposable eating utensils, plates, cups, etc., as well as trash bags
  • Glasses or contact lens supplies
  • Infant needs, such as formula, diapers, wipes and other supplies
  • Pet food
  • Feminine hygiene supplies
  • Non-electronic games (cards, board games, coloring books, Play-Doh, crayons, etc.) for children
  • Cash (ATMs may not be working or you may not be able to reach one)
  • Important documents such as passports, driver’s licenses, birth certificates and other forms of identification, as well as your insurance paperwork

First aid kit

If roads are flooded or impassable after the storm, you might not be able to reach a pharmacy if you need first aid. Prepare yourself for minor injuries with a fully-stocked first aid kit, including:

  • Bandages
  • Latex gloves
  • Non-prescription medications, such as ibuprofen (kids’ versions, as well, if applicable)
  • Scissors
  • Bandages in various sizes
  • Antibiotic ointments and disinfectants, such as hydrogen peroxide

Emergency supplies

If the power is out, you won’t be able to use many of the items around your apartment that you’ve gotten used to having a part of your everyday life. Make sure you have these essential supplies ready to go.

  • Portable phone chargers (make sure they’re charged themselves!)
  • Batteries in all sizes
  • Flashlights
  • Candles
  • Matches or lanterns
  • Manual can opener
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Whistle (to call for help if necessary)
  • Tool box

“Insure” safety

Before the storm hits, make sure your renters insurance is up to date and covers things like wind and rain damage. You may need extra flood insurance to ensure coverage.

Park smart

If you don’t have a garage or secure space in a parking structure, have a plan in place to get your vehicles to a safe area, where flooding or damage from flying debris are less likely.

Be social

Neighbors help one another in emergencies. If you don’t know yours, now is the time to reach out.

  • Exchange contact information so you can reach out in the storm’s wake to see if anyone needs assistance, or to ask for help yourself
  • Assign “captains” who can be responsible for a particular area, floor or building, who will check on residents, in particular, any who have special needs
  • Make a communication plan in the event of power and cell-coverage outages




7 Back to School Safety Tips for the Whole Family

As the summer heat begins to fade, children are enjoying their final days of free play and parents are preparing to send the kiddos off to school. As the new school year approaches, it’s important to prepare your family for back to school safety.

Apartment dwellers with school-aged children can help prevent accidents by teaching and adhering to these safety tips.

1. Drive with extreme caution

kids walking to schoolkids walking to school

When school starts again, more children will be on the roads in the morning and afternoon hours. It’s always important to be focused when driving, but during the school season, it’s especially important to be alert and aware of your surroundings.

Small children will be on the roads and you may not see them in your blind spots. Recognize those children on the road, err on the side of caution and don’t assume kids see your car and know your intentions. It’s best to drive slowly and cautiously to keep kids safe.

2. Adhere to school zone lights

school zoneschool zone

In designated school zones, you’ll see the yellow flashing lights signaling for drivers to slow to 20 mph. Any time you see the school zone lights on, you must slow down to ensure the safety of children walking to school.

Children may not be observing traffic, and it’s up to the adults to follow school zone speeds to help keep kids safe. Even if you don’t see children in the school zone, it’s better to play it safe to ensure back-to-school safety.

3. Stop behind the school bus

cars behind school buscars behind school bus

School buses are one of the main modes of transportation for kids. When the stop sign is activated on a school bus, never try and pass the bus on either side.

Children will be exiting the school bus and crossing the street. Passing a school bus when the stop sign is on is not only dangerous, it’s illegal.

4. Follow the school’s pick up and drop off policy

dropping off at schooldropping off at school

Each school will have a different system in place to help parents safely pick up and drop off their children.

Before the school year starts, talk to your school and get a thorough understanding of the policy. This will help protect your child and other children during pick up and drop off times of the day.

5. Teach your kids how they’ll get to and from school

kids on bikekids on bike

Not all kids are driven to school, so there are some rules to teach your children about walking and biking to school safely. First, you’ll want to ensure they know how to get to school from your apartment. Second, you’ll want to make sure they know which direction to walk back, which building they live in, what apartment number and floor level.

Apartment complexes can be vast and buildings can look similar to a child. To keep them safe, make sure they know how to get to and from school on their own. Also, if they’re walking to school without parental supervision, you may want to consider a GPS tracker for kids. This will loop you in on their whereabouts so you can confirm that they got to school safely each day.

In the weeks leading up to the first day of school, practice walking, biking or scootering to school so you can teach your kids the safest route to take, how to use the sidewalk and crosswalks and where to park their bikes or scooters when they get to school.

If your children will be biking or scootering to school, teach them to always wear a helmet. Once they get to school, ask the principal where the kids should park their bikes or scooters during the day and when and where they can pick them up after school.

6. Stop, look and listen

crossing guardcrossing guard

This may be the most fundamental back to school safety lesson you teach your children. As simple as it is, it’s one of the most important lessons a child can learn. Anytime they’re about to cross a street, make sure they follow the three-step plan:

  1. Stop at the end of the sidewalk
  2. Look both ways to make sure there are no cars coming from either direction.
  3. Listen for cars even if you cannot see them.

7. Teach school bus etiquette

kids getting on school buskids getting on school bus

As the school season kicks off, kids are excited to ride the school bus with their friends. While this is a fun time of life for children, it’s important they know the proper school bus etiquette and rules to promote back to school safety.

Before they start school, walk with your children to the bus stop so they know the safest route. Next, let them know that they need to stay on the curb until the school bus pulls over. When the doors open, the school bus driver will tell the kids when it’s safe to hop on board.

Teach your kids that they should never run to the school, but that the school bus will pull over for them and let them know when it’s safe to get on. When they get off the bus, let them know that they need to always look both ways before crossing the street.

Better safe than sorry

The beginning of the school year is often an exciting and, sometimes, scary time. Ease some of the nerves by teaching your children what’s expected of them and what could happen if they don’t follow the rules.

And you should follow these guidelines to promote back to school safety in your apartment complex, neighborhood and community. Remember to share the road and keep your eyes open for kids once the school season begins.