Hurricane Preparedness: What About Apartments?

My fiancé and I were walking around a Home Depot in town today to see what they had for hurricane preparations since the first day of the season is tomorrow. We walked to the back of the store and came across a table featuring their Hurricane Preparedness Workshop. While I was looking at all of their suggested preparedness items, something came across my mind. A lot of these items such as tarp, generators, chainsaws, shutters, etc. are for those who own their own homes. What about those who either live in apartments (such as myself), or rent a house? What if you live in a condo?

About 35 percent of the households in the United States live in renter-occupied dwellings, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council. Thirteen percent of residents in Florida reside in apartments. It may not sound like much, but that’s a little over two million people that live in apartments. Many of the apartment dwellers are under 30 years old with not-so-great incomes. In Tallahassee, with the college student, lower income, and young professional population, apartment living is very common.

I asked a clerk how he thinks people who live in apartments should prepare? He thought about it for a few seconds, and thought of one product. The clerk mentioned a fabric-type covering that you can place over your windows to lessen the damage from winds (see image below). The Delray Beach-based company that makes this product claims that the material is two times stronger than trampoline fabric.

photo

With rental living, most tenants are prohibited from attaching anything to the side of the building. This can include screwing in shutters and plywood to cover windows and sliding-glass doors. This leads to my problem with this product: You still need to screw the mounts into the wall, which your landlord may throw a two-year-old-in-a-toy-aisle-style fit.

So, what can you do? An insurance company in Georgia posted a few tips that could help…

– Close all window shutters (IF you have them) to help keep wind out of your dwelling.
– Place towels on window sills and at exterior doors as this could help limit the amount of water that finds its way into your home.
– Secure patio / balcony doors to stop them from blowing open in the wind.
– All items, including furniture, should be removed from outdoor areas to prevent them from causing damage.
– Unplug all electrical cords from the wall [probably to protect from electrical surges – hard to do with today’s wired world].

If you live in a an apartment that’s in a flood-prone area or in a higher floor, it would not be a bad idea to consider going to a family or friend’s home that is more structurally sound.

Having an emergency kit, and a place to store bottled water and non-perishable food to last three days would be a good idea. Also, having renter’s insurance would be a good idea to cover your personal items in the unfortunate event of a loss, as the landlord’s insurance policy likely won’t cover loses (unless it’s something negligent they did).

Be prepared and stay safe this season!