Let’s face it: As much as we’d like to live in a perfect world, we don’t. Accidents happen, people break into apartments, and natural disasters like tornadoes and floods occur more often than you might think. According to a survey from Rent.com, more often than not, people are not well-prepared for emergencies.
The survey of apartment renters found that more than 55% of renters don’t feel safe or prepared for emergencies in their apartment, and about a third of renters have no plan in case an emergency situation arises.
Preparing for these emergencies is so important because, and forgive me for using a cliche, it’s way better to be safe than sorry. If you’re not sure how to get started on your emergency prep, here’s how to prepare your pets and your apartment in the event of an apartment fire, a break-in, or natural disaster:
One home fire occurs every 90 seconds in the U.S., and it’s essential to take steps to prevent one from happening to you. Here’s what you can do to prevent an apartment fire:
Identify your fire hazards: The first step toward fire prevention is figuring out what is hazardous inside your apartment and taking action to make those items a little safer or removing them completely.
Some of the most common hazards are candles, frayed electrical cords, stoves, electrical appliances, and space heaters. If you’re using any of these items, don’t leave them unattended, even for a minute, just in case they cause something nearby to catch on fire.
Keep candles on hard, stable surfaces and away from any paper products, stay in the room when you’re using your microwave or toaster and immediately get rid of anything with frayed or worn-out wiring.
Check your smoke detectors: According to the Red Cross, you cut your risk of dying in a fire in half by installing smoke alarms. If your apartment doesn’t have smoke alarms, contact your landlord immediately– most states require residences to have detectors. If you have them, test them once a month to make sure the batteries are still working by pressing the “Test” button.
Keep an extinguisher handy: Have a fire extinguisher near your kitchen or in an accessible storage place in case a small fire starts. If the fire is spreading fast, get out of the apartment as quickly as possible, and stay out until help has arrived.
Practice fire drills: Only around 54% of renters have a safety plan in case a fire does occur, so practice drills by yourself or with your roommates. It may sound very elementary school to you, but fires spread so fast that having an exact exit strategy if one does happen could make a huge difference.
Whether you live in a city or outside of one, you should be prepared for an apartment break-in just in case. Despite break-ins occurring about once every 15 seconds in the U.S., less than a third of renters have a plan to keep their homes safe. Here’s how to protect your apartment from a break-in:
Keep valuables hidden: Keep anything of value out of sight if someone were to look into your windows. If you have large electronics or other valuable items out in plain sight, consider closing the blinds while you’re not home.
Though it may sound backward, re-open your blinds when you get home. A thief is less likely to break in if he or she thinks someone could be watching.
Install a deadbolt: If your apartment doesn’t already have a deadbolt, talk to your landlord about having one installed. Deadbolts are way more effective at keeping people out than doorknob locks, and they can even dissuade a thief from trying to break into your apartment in the first place.
Be smart: Be cautious when it comes to keeping your apartment safe. Lock up every time you leave, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Never let anyone without a key in the front door, even if they say they’re visiting a friend. Likewise, if you have an intercom system, don’t buzz anyone in without first checking who it is.
Natural disasters cover a wide range, from tornadoes to hurricanes to floods, but there are some basic items you can keep on hand to prepare for any of them. Here’s what to have in an emergency supply kit in case of a natural disaster:
- Non-perishable food
- Flashlights (and batteries)
- A radio
- A first-aid kit (the kit should at least include Band-Aids, antibiotic ointment, antiseptic wipes, scissors, medical tape, and gauze pads).
- A blanket
- Extra medication if you take anything regularly
- Hygiene and sanitation items
Extra cash or an emergency credit card
Along with taking these steps, renters should also make sure to cover their personal possessions with renters insurance. For just $15 to $30 a month you can insure all of your belongings in case any of these emergencies happen.