Hurricane season is upon us, and while we cannot predict what will happen when a hurricane hits your area, there are several things you can do to prepare for it.
One of the most important things to do is to stock up on emergency supplies. This includes food, water, and medications.
Make a Plan
As hurricane season looms on the horizon, there are several things apartment residents can do to prepare. This includes monitoring weather updates and preparing emergency supplies, as well as making an evacuation plan should the need arise.
As always, timely communication between apartment community management and residents is vital during and following a hurricane. That’s why NMHC maintains a Hurricane Resource Center, a compendium of disaster-related resources that can be accessed by residents and staff. It also serves as a repository for community news and alerts, including a listing of available shelters and recovery centers, disaster survival tips and updates on the latest storm forecast.
In the weeks leading up to the start of hurricane season, it’s important for apartment managers to check with residents about flood insurance policies and other precautions they might take. Flood insurance is especially important in a coastal area, where a hurricane’s surge of water can cause serious damage to homes and infrastructure.
Moreover, it’s essential for apartment dwellers to know what’s covered under their renters’ and homeowners’ insurance policies. They can also request preventative maintenance from their landlord to keep their apartments secure and safe during hurricanes.
Finally, property owners can work with their residents to establish a hurricane fund that will cover the cost of things like generators and other tools that can be handy in an apartment community. Having such items available will save residents time and stress during the storm.
It’s also helpful for apartment communities to have a complete set of up-to-date property plans that clearly depict fire exit locations, alarm pulls, gas and water shutoffs, electrical panels, elevators and other important equipment. Such information helps emergency services professionals get to the right places in a fraction of the time, which can be a critical factor in saving lives.
Another way that apartment owners and communities can be prepared for hurricanes is to ensure that all buildings have a current inventory of the items on their property, such as furniture, appliances, golf carts and so on. This will help emergency personnel identify what they need to do during the storm and afterwards, saving precious seconds and minutes that can make all the difference in saving lives.
Stock Up on Emergency Supplies
Regardless of where you live, hurricanes are an inevitable threat during the Atlantic hurricane season (June 1 through November 30) and the Eastern Pacific hurricane season (May 15 through November). It’s important to be prepared for a hurricane in your apartment.
One of the best ways to prepare for a hurricane is by stocking up on emergency supplies. This will help you and your family survive a storm in the event that the power goes out or something else goes wrong.
Start by creating a basic DIY emergency kit. It should include the following six essentials: water, food, first aid supplies, clothing and bedding, tools and emergency supplies, and special items. You can find these items at your local grocery store or home supply store.
For the food, choose calorie-dense foods that don’t need to be refrigerated. This includes canned food, freeze-dried food buckets and dry goods like rice or pasta.
Canned foods can be stored for up to two years if they’re properly sealed and stored in cool, dry areas. Freeze-dried foods also don’t need to be refrigerated and can last for years in the freezer as long as they’re not exposed to moisture.
Other necessary items to have in your emergency kit are hard copies of a few survival and first aid books, fire extinguishers, extra blankets or sleeping bags, and excess medications. These items can help you to cope with a long-term disaster, including quarantine and lockdown situations.
In addition to these items, it’s a good idea to have a stash of cash on hand. This will help you avoid getting stuck with unexpected expenses if your electricity goes out or your bank closes down for the duration of the storm.
It’s also a good idea to ask your landlord or property manager about their plans for preparing your apartment for a hurricane. They may offer storm shutters or other supplies to help you prepare.
Prepare a Shelter
Unlike homes, apartment buildings often share walls and communal areas, making it important for residents to communicate with their community managers and owners on matters related to hurricane preparations. This includes identifying and stocking up on emergency supplies, taking shelter-in-place and evacuation plans.
Before the storm arrives, shutter windows and doors to prevent flying glass from entering the building. Ask the apartment’s management or landlord if they provide shutters, and ask about a specific style.
When you do shutter your windows, keep them closed all the way up and make sure they’re securely cinched. Also, close the curtains and blinds as well to ensure you’re staying safe from flying debris.
If you have a patio or balcony, move anything that could become projectiles indoors, including welcome mats, potted plants and any furniture or equipment. You can also secure your outdoor lighting fixtures and grill until the weather passes.
The best shelter for a hurricane is an interior room, such as a bedroom, bathroom or hallway without windows or outside walls. If you live in a high-rise apartment, consider taking cover on the lower level.
Once you’ve identified your safest room, practice going to it during windy conditions. If floodwaters are a concern, try to find a neighbor’s unit on higher ground and stay in that until it’s safe to leave.
Finally, store a 10 days’ supply of food and water in a pantry or other easily accessible storage area. In apartments, this may be a challenging task because of limited storage space.
One important emergency supply is water for sanitation purposes. Fill your bathtub and other large containers with a safe amount of water that you can use for drinking, cooking and cleaning.
Be sure to secure your valuables, and make a list of everything you have, including documents such as social security cards, passports and birth certificates. This can help in case your apartment is damaged and you need to file an insurance claim.
Make an Evacuation Plan
Hurricanes are powerful and can damage properties in a short period of time, especially if you live in an apartment building. They can also cause flooding and downed power lines that can cut off electricity and impede access to emergency supplies.
The first step in preparing for a hurricane in your apartment is to make an evacuation plan. The plan should be updated regularly so that you have a comprehensive and clear outline of how to evacuate your home or apartment in the event of an emergency.
Ensure that everyone in your apartment is aware of the plan, and that all important information is clearly communicated to them. This includes the location of your apartment, your contact numbers and any special medical needs for family members or pets.
It’s also a good idea to have laminated cards with this information that can be tucked into your wallet. The cards should list a couple of potential meeting places in the event that you need to evacuate your apartment, as well as phone numbers and addresses for those meeting locations.
If possible, leave your apartment as early as possible and follow a safe route away from the storm. Avoid the areas of town that are at risk for severe flooding, downed trees and washed-out roads. You’ll want to head inland if possible, where you can find a friend or relative’s house or hotel to stay at.
When you do evacuate, shut off water and gas valves and turn off the electrical appliances in your apartment. If you live in a high-rise, consider moving to a lower floor or a neighbor’s apartment to reduce the load on your roof and prevent extra pressure on the interior walls.
You should also take pictures of your apartment, so you can document the extent of any damage to it. This will help you make a claim on your insurance if you have any losses after the disaster.
It’s also a good idea to prepare a bag for your belongings and store it in a place you can easily get to in case you need to leave. This bag should include essential items like food, water, toiletries and other necessities. It should also contain a copy of your insurance policy and a binder containing your important documents, such as birth certificates, passports and credit cards.