What do the residents of states including Florida, Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, the Carolinas and sometimes even New York have in common? Come summertime, it's storm season, which means the potential for a hurricane evacuation is real.
Just because you don't live in the hurricane hot spots doesn't mean you shouldn't be ready for hurricanes. Every state along the Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico has had a landfall from a hurricane since records were first kept in 1851.
Ordered evacuation is no joke. When authorities tell you to get out of the storm's path, you should. But hurricane forecasting is a long game, which means there's no reason you can't prepare your apartment ahead of time.
Read on for a list of tips you can do well ahead of any forming storms (this means at the start of the season) and those best done before locking your doors and heading out of Dodge.
Even before hurricanes form out in the middle of the ocean, you should take these steps to start preparing.
If you live in a hurricane zone, evacuations can happen. Identify one or more people with whom you can stay if you have no choice but to leave home. Knowing where you're headed will take a lot of stress out of the situation ahead of the bad weather.
It's likely you're already carrying mandatory renters insurance, but does your policy include clauses for wind, water and weather? Get it out of your files before hurricane season and make sure you'll be covered in the event that a serious storm rips through your rental community.
This article deals with evacuation, but in the event the storm in your area doesn't require you to leave, it's always good to have an emergency supply kit on hand, especially if something prevents you from leaving.
Check with your property management company to find out if the buildings in your complex are fitted for hurricane shutters that will be installed prior to any named-storm threats.
Are you on the ground floor? Ask if they are prepped with sandbags. If the answer is no, find out whether you're allowed to outfit your unit, or the entry points around it, with your own.
If your apartment is damaged, you'll want to have proof of the condition it was in pre-evacuation in the event you need to make a claim. Take pictures of everything from televisions and gaming systems to your collection of expensive shoes, furniture, small appliances, clothing, you name it. One broken window could leave your entire apartment blown apart. Video is a good idea, as well.
If an evacuation is ordered in your area or you just want to leave to be safe, here are a few things you should do in your apartment to prevent damage and make your evacuation less stressful.
According to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, shutting the interior doors of your apartment can help depressurize your apartment if a window is broken amid the storm. Their research in a 1,400-square-foot, single-story home showed that closing interior doors reduced the extra load the air pressure put on the roof by 30 percent. This is an especially good idea if you're on the top floor.
Whether your unit has a balcony or a patio, you'll want to move all the items — plants, furniture, rugs, bicycles or anything else — inside before you go.
This is especially important if you're on the bottom floor. Remove anything valuable from lower shelves (pictures, books, etc.) and put them in a higher place. If your apartment floods, there will be damage anyway, but at least this way you can try to keep some of your items safe.
If you have access to your water and gas shutoffs to your apartment, turn them off before you leave. This will help prevent any additional damage if pipes burst. Chances are your apartment will lose power anyway during the storm. But FEMA still recommends that you shut off your electricity at your circuit breaker.
Big hurricanes can be big trouble. Make sure you take the easy-to-move valuables like heirloom jewelry, photo albums and anything irreplaceable with you.
Additionally, get a binder in which to place all your important paperwork, such as birth certificates, passports, health insurance, renter's insurance, credit cards and any other important document you have.
Don't leave your animals behind in the event of an evacuation! Remember rule No. 1 is to have a plan. That plan should include your whole family, which includes pets. If you can't find a pet-friendly place in which to stay until you're cleared to return to your apartment, make alternate plans for your animals so that they can be safe when the weather gets rough.
Regions where hurricanes are common all have emergency organizations with which residents can connect for information before, during and after a storm. These include the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and North Carolina Office of Public Safety. Know yours and get connected.
Additionally, FEMA has a mobile app where users can get safety tips, alerts, shelter locations and more.
The more prepared you are before a storm comes, the easier it will be for you to evacuate when the time comes. When an evacuation is issued, you should plan to leave as soon as possible. If you wait too long, you will have to deal with more traffic and potentially life-threatening weather.
Consider your safety first. If you don't think you can safely leave because you waited too long or another reason, make plans to hunker down and ride out the storm.