As Hurricane Harvey continues to drop heavy rainfall and spawn dangerous tornadoes in the Hattiesburg area we thought it perfect timing to share our best information on preparing your apartment for severe weather.
As a renter the best advice you could ever follow in a weather-related emergency situation is to be prepared. Being prepared means two things: planning carefully and knowing what to expect. In those efforts we have outlined below our best emergency preparedness information for anyone who lives in apartments for rent.
For in-depth emergency preparedness information, resources and current weather alerts in the Hattiesburg area, visit the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA).
Protecting Apartments For Rent in Advance of Severe Weather
Hurricanes, tornados and floods bring devastation that is hard for many to imagine. While there is no way to stop these natural disasters from happening, there are a few ways renters can protect their apartments for rent and the belongings contained within them.
Install Window and Entryway Protection
In the event of a hurricane it’s important to install shutters or panels on the windows and doors to your apartment. Some apartment communities or condo associations may supply these to you. It’s important to check with your landlord or property manager to see who provides them (if any), who will put them up (if any) and what restrictions are in place (if any). Give yourself ample time to gather this information so you can ensure installation before a storm hits.
Verify Property Stability
Before a storm even comes close to hitting your apartments for rent, first make sure that you are living in a stable space that can withstand high winds and intense rain. Before you even sign a lease be sure to ask your landlord or property manager when the roof was last inspected, if the windows are impact glass and to verify the structural security of your rental. Trust us, this is information that is a “need to know” before you move-in.
Choose Apartments For Rent on Top Floors
Another “before the storm” tip is to only choose apartments for rent that are located on higher floors. If there is flooding this means that all of your belongings will be spared from damage because you were not located on the ground floor. A general rule is that middle-floor apartments are the safest bet.
Avoid Flood Hazard Areas
When choosing the location of your apartment you should be mindful of the community’s proximity to t flood hazard areas. These are areas that are more prone to rising floodwaters as they sit at lower elevations and/or are near bodies of water like lakes, rivers, oceans and waterways.
The flood hazard in Hattiesburg comes primarily from the Leaf River and its tributary Creeks including: Gordon, Mixon, Burkett and Priest, which are within the Pascagoula River Basin. For more information and maps on Hattiesburg flooding, visit www.hattiesburgms.com/residents/flood-information/.
Have Renters Insurance
Our biggest tip for being prepared is to have renters insurance! If your rental is damaged due to a natural disaster the apartment community or owner is responsible for repairing the unit…but not replacing your personal belongings. If you live in a flood hazard area you may also want to think about getting flood insurance. Same goes for renters located in earthquake areas who may need additional coverage. If you are unsure what rental insurance policies or coverage is available in your market, just ask a reputable insurance provider.
Protecting Yourself and Your Family During Natural Disasters
When it comes to emergencies at apartments for rent, here are some precautions that every renter should take.
Follow All Evacuation Orders
If your rental is located in an evacuation zone and you receive an order to leave, then do it! Sometimes renters want to stay in their unit and try to “wait it out”, which can oftentimes lead to serious consequences. It is always best to err on the side of caution and get out to a safe area while there’s still time.
Have an Emergency Escape Route
When you first move to a new apartment it’s important to know the community layout and location of stairwells in the event you need to make an emergency escape. Have a route planned so that if something does happen you are ready and levelheaded with an exit.
Have an Emergency Supply Kit
Natural disasters are most destructive long after the storm has passed. That is because they knock out electricity, water resources and roadways making it difficult to gain access to everyday necessities like water, food and medical care.
To be prepared it’s important to have an emergency supply kit at your apartment. Basic kits should have the following:
- Water for at least three days (a gallon per day per person)
- Non-perishable foods that don’t require heat for cooking
- Flashlights and batteries
- First aid supplies
- Important documents (insurance papers, health records)
- Pet supplies (food, medications)
There are probably other things you would want to include your emergency supply kit. For a full list of items that MEMA suggests including, visit here.
Make Sure Your Cell Phone Can Get Proper Alerts
From flood to tornado warnings, most cell phones are equipped to receive Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA). This nationwide text emergency alert system will send out notifications to capable phones when they are in the vicinity of impending bad weather. For more information on WEAs, visit the FEMA website.