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.
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.