The old adage, “April showers bring May flowers” doesn’t account for when those April showers get out of hand. Unfortunately, many of the country’s worst storms happen during the spring and can sometimes lead to flash flooding, steady downpours, and electrical outages. Bad weather that creates a power outage is no fun but it can also quickly escalate to more dire straights if your emergency kit was never stocked. At ApartmentSearch, we think being prepared is the best policy. Here are the emergency supplies to keep on hand year ’round. Read the rest of this entry »
‘Apartment Safety’ Category
There you are on a sandy beach, basking in the sun, your cell phone and laptop far away, when suddenly it hits you: Rent is due in two days! And you can’t remember if you paid your utility bills! And… oh God… did you leave the stove on? Did you even remember to lock your apartment door?! If this scenario sounds like something you might experience while on vacation, don’t fear. Before you depart from your apartment for summer vacation, be sure to do these 7 things.
1. Plan ahead to pay rent and utilities.
Avoid the mid-vacation panic of remembering overdue bills by planning ahead a little. Before you leave, set up autopay online for both or pay them ahead of time.
2. Take care of your mail.
If you are expecting deliveries while you are away, ask your neighbors to receive them or bring them in for you until you get back. If the mail item will be delivered to the leasing office, you should also notify your apartment’s management so they will know to hold it for you until you return. Read the rest of this entry »
Renters insurance: the unsung hero of apartment safety. If you don’t have renters insurance, you might want to think twice about how you’re protecting your apartment and all your precious stuff.
Why do you need renters insurance? Well, renters insurance is used to cover you if something happens to your apartment that costs you money. Of course, what your renters insurance covers really depends on the type of policy you get, but even having a little can be better than living in an apartment uninsured.
Still not convinced? Consider these four scenarios. Some are likely, some are silly, but all are perfectly good reasons to consider getting renters insurance.
Fire! Fire! Four-Alarm!
Let’s say your neighbor—we’ll call him “Bob”—is trying his hand at making Thanksgiving dinner for the first time. Deep-fried turkey is all the rage this year, and he’s decided to give it a try. What Bob doesn’t know is that you should never deep fry a frozen turkey because the combination of hot oil and cold bird can lead to splattered oil and a big, bad fire. Fortunately, you and Bob are both okay, but neither of your apartments were so lucky. Renter’s insurance can cover the damages to your belongings and the repairs to your apartment.
The Wrath of Your Landlord
Threatening phone calls, demands for money, reminders that if you don’t pay up there’ll be trouble– it’s not a scene from The Godfather, it’s just your landlord making sure you have renters insurance. Sometimes landlords require tenants to have renters insurance upon signing a lease. Not having renters insurance, or at the very least being unable to prove that you have it, could lead to hefty fines or even eviction. By getting renters insurance you can avoid wearing concrete shoes and sleepin’ with the fishes, see?
Lawsuit from a Friend-Turned-Foe
You’ve just moved in to your new apartment and your friend has graciously volunteered help you move your furniture and paint the walls. Unfortunately she’s a bit of a klutz, so she falls off the ladder and breaks her arm while painting a hard-to-reach corner. Even though you’re very concerned, she gets angry, and decides to end your friendship, stick you with all her medical bills, and sue you to boot. Renters insurance can give you liability protection, which could cover expenses within your liability limit like legal costs and hospital bills.
An Overexcited Bathtub Faucet
Some apartments are older than others, which means that some of their features can be a little… persnickety. Let’s say it’s been a long day, so you decide to run a bath and relax; however, once the tub is full, you discover that the faucet is stuck and the tub’s drain cover won’t budge. You’re forced to watch your floors get soaked as you call the apartment’s emergency maintenance team. Now your carpets are ruined, your shoes are sopping, and your downstairs neighbor is complaining about a dripping ceiling. Renters insurance can help cover those costs, which is especially helpful if the landlord’s policy doesn’t help you out with them.
Did you know it’s National Severe Weather Preparedness Week? Being prepared for bad weather in apartments is essential to safe apartment living. If you live in an area that is susceptible to natural disasters and severe weather, stay safe by being prepared for whatever nature might throw your way. Today we bring your our top resources for severe weather preparedness in apartments, including a roundup of free resources from organizations like the Red Cross, FEMA, and the CDC.
American Red Cross – Plan & Prepare Guides
These guides from the American Red Cross help households, schools, and workplaces prepare for emergencies. The Tools and Resources page contains extensive checklists and guides in many different languages. Apartment-dwellers will find the Prepare Your Home and Family page especially helpful.
ApartmentSearch.com – Apartment Tornado Safety
Tornados warnings have an average lead-time of only 13 minutes, according to NOAA. Because of this, it is important for renters to be prepared for a tornado. Use these tips from ApartmentSearch.com so you’ll know what to do if a tornado ever touches down near your apartment.
ApartmentSearch.com – Tips for Apartment Emergency Preparedness
As part of our apartment resources for renters, this list of tips for dealing emergencies in apartments includes hurricane, tornado, fire, and flooding safety, plus some important basic apartment safety tips. Check this while you prepare your apartment’s interior and its occupants for severe weather and natural disasters.
ApartmentSearch.com – Tips for Flooded Apartments
Flooding can happen as a result of lots of severe weather conditions. Hurricanes, tsunamis, flash floods, and heavy rainstorms can all cause flooding. Even plain old freezing weather can cause pipes to burst and lead to a flooded apartment. If the latter happens, use this guide to deal with apartment flooding.
This resource from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) contains recommendations for what to do before, during, and after a natural disaster or severe weather occurrence. Everything is here: earthquakes, extreme heat, flooding, hurricanes, landslides, lightning, mudslides, tornados, tsunamis, volcanoes, wildfires, and severe winter weather.
FEMA – Ready.gov
Here the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides a comprehensive guide to dealing with all kinds of disasters. On this site you can get the information you need to deal with all stages of an emergency, construct a plan for emergencies, build an emergency preparedness kit, and more.
NOAA – Weather.gov
This page of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) site has the latest forecast information across the U.S. If you are anticipating severe weather, check here for regional and city-specific updates.
The Weather Channel – Disaster Supply Kit Checklists
Check out this page for a comprehensive roundup of different components of emergency supply kits. From food to first aid kits, tools to toilet paper, you’ll find a list for every contingency.
Have you taken a good look at your apartment’s kitchen lately? Chances are, it’s not as clean as you think. Your kitchen is just one of many areas in your apartment that may be harboring germs. That’s because there are lots of places in apartments we don’t think twice about that could definitely benefit from a good scrubbing. You should regularly vacuum, mop, and dust your apartment, of course, but there are plenty of unlikely culprits remaining.
Take some sanitizing wipes or a good cleaning spray and go over these things in your apartment to eliminate inconspicuous germs and stay healthy.
Purses, Laptop Bags and/or Backpacks
Your bag goes with you everywhere, and is set on all manner of chairs and floors over the course of the day. Give the outside a quick cleaning with a wipe or a washcloth, and be sure you clean it out regularly. You never know what might be lingering in the bottom of that bag.
If you use your apartment’s gym, be sure you wipe down the gym equipment after you use it. Most apartments’ gyms have a spray bottle of cleaners and some paper towels handy for this surface. Wipe down anything you touched, including the dashboards of any cardio equipment and the seats of weight machines. If your apartment has no gym, be sure you clean any home gym equipment or yoga mats you may have.
Sponges and Dishrags
Your apartment’s kitchen cleaning implements spend so much time cleaning dirty dishes and surfaces that they become culprits for harboring germs themselves. Wash them out every day, and put your sponges in the microwave for two minutes on high to dry and disinfect them. Replace your sponges every month to help keep your apartment’s kitchen germ-free. You can also throw your scrub brush in your dishwasher with each load of dishes, and let the machine do the work for you!
Clean your cutting boards after every use, and be extra thorough if you have used them to cut raw meat. Use two cutting boards, if you have them; one for meat, and one for fruits and vegetables.
Think about the last time you blew your nose, and then think about everything in your apartment’s living room that you touched afterward. Those are the kinds of surfaces that could benefit from a quick spritz of disinfectant. Pay attention to your apartment’s doorknobs, remote controls, light switches, computer keyboards, and faucet knobs.
More Tips from ApartmentSearch.com
What could be nicer on a cold winter evening than a crackling fire? Most apartments unfortunately do not have that beautiful, warm and toasty fireplace. But if you are one of the few that have a working fireplace in your apartment, count yourself lucky. Your landlord should ensure that the chimney is working order. But inside the apartment, safety of operation is in your hands. Here are some tips to maintain apartment safety when you have a fireplace.
Make sure smoke alarms are in working order. Smoke alarms are vital to apartment safety. Check them once a month, and replace batteries at least once a year.
Use a mesh screen. For apartment safety, keep the screen closed when a fire is lit. If the fireplace doesn’t have a built-in screen, get one that completely covers the front of the fireplace. This will keep sparks from popping out and igniting nearby materials.
Keep the fireplace area clear. This is another important apartment safety tip. Anything flammable such as paper, furniture, rugs, and wood should be kept at least 3 feet from the fireplace.
Never start a fire with gas or other flammable liquids. Flammable liquids release vapors that can explode, endangering your apartment safety.
Have a fire extinguisher on hand. This device helps to ensure your apartment safety. If an extinguisher is not present, ask your landlord to provide one or purchase your own.
Use the damper correctly. For apartment safety, be sure the damper is open when you start a fire. Close the damper when the fireplace is not in use.
Be careful what you burn. Your apartment safety depends on it. For example, do not burn a green Christmas tree, which can throw off lots of sparks and cause a chimney fire. If you burn newspapers, remove the color sections—they can release toxic gases when burned.
Never leave a fire unattended. Extinguish a fire before you go to bed or leave your apartment. Safety precautions like this can help protect you and your belongings.
Practice good fireplace apartment safety, and you’ll be able to enjoy those cozy fires on chilly nights without worry.
If you don’t have a fireplace and would like one, why not look for a new apartment? Safety, location, price, and other features are all things you’ll want to consider. Search our listings of Seattle apartments, Dallas apartments, Phoenix apartments, and Austin apartments to find the perfect new home for you.
Foremost, it is important to make sure that your apartment is safe from accidents. Before you leave you apartment check all faucets (during freezes in winter it may be wise to leave a drip running), turn off all light switches, check the stove, and scan the surroundings of electrical outlets. An extra safe step: clean each room. Take stock of items that may need to be stowed away and safety hazards that can be avoided. At bare minimum, take out your trash, do your dishes and seal all non-perishables. Pests and rodents are real risks. Especially in a warm, dark, empty apartments.
Cleaning your apartment living quarters comes with an added bonus of coming home to serenity after the stresses of travel. Conserving energy can also alleviate some travel induced stress. Saving energy saves money in your pocketbook! Do not get charged for energy services that you aren’t using! Be sure to shut the blinds, move plants to one window sill if possible, turn off (or up) the air conditioning, and unplug all cords and power strips. Not only does this also add another element of safety, it saves the planet!
Do you have any other tips to share with us? Connect with us on our Facebook or Twitter pages. We will share your tips with other fans. Happy traveling from ApartmentSearch.com and The Apartment Living Blog!
Spring and summer months often bring about thoughts of sunshine, recreation and barbecues. However, if you happen to reside in an area of frequent tornado activity, ominous skies and thunderstorms can spawn dangerous funneling columns of wind, sometimes without warning. This 2011 tornado season has been no exception, with some of the most violent instances of tornado activity in recorded history. Regardless of where you live, including in apartments, these tornado safety tips for apartments can help you prepare for a worst-case scenario.
If your apartment is located in an area with a history of tornado activity, your first step should be to ask your property manager if there are any storm shelters in your complex or building and how the community will warn residents about the danger. Municipal authorities have different methods for alerting the public to impending danger; therefore, you should ask how residents in your area are alerted.
Set up or purchase a portable disaster supply kit, including a battery-powered radio and flashlight, and don’t forget to include extra batteries. A first aid kit and manual, waterproof matches, water and a supply of non-perishable food items are essential supplies. Extra prescription medications, cash, signal flares and clothing are also some items that can help you and your family survive the immediate aftermath of a tornado. Keep your kit handy, and make sure any roommates, family or even guests know where to find it.
If your apartment building is in the path of a tornado, move to the lowest and most centered area of the building you can and stay as far as possible from any windows and in an interior room such as a closet, bathroom or interior hallway. However, do not try to open or close windows; it is a myth that closed windows cause internal pressurization so high that a building can explode. It is vitally important to protect yourself from flying debris and falling objects by staying in a crouched position, low to the ground and covering your head with your hands. You can further shield yourself from harm by hiding beneath sturdy furniture such as a table and using mattresses, sleeping bags or blankets.
Apartment living, even in areas with a history of tornado activity, is an enjoyable experience. Being prepared and having a plan in the unlikely event of a disaster will arm you with the knowledge of what to do should a tornado strike where you live.
Secure Your Apartment
We’d like to offer up some security tips for apartments as a follow-up to our recent article on apartment break-ins and our archive article on renting a safe apartment. A break-in can happen to anybody, but taking measures to stay safe and secure is a great way to reduce the chances.
FBI statistics say that a burglary in the U.S. happens once every 15.4 seconds. Unlike a robbery, a burglary is theft that happens without confrontation, usually when the victim is not home. Burglaries usually take place in the daytime when most apartment residents are at work or school. Apartment security experts say that the riskiest months for burglary of apartments are July and August; February generally finds apartment thieves idle and trying to stay warm. Your typical apartment thief is under 25 and looking for valuable targets of opportunity like cash, jewelry, laptops, and electronics. About 70% of these apartment security violations involve the use of force at a weak point to gain entry, often with simple household tools like hammers, screwdrivers or pry bars.
What Does an Apartment Security Risk Look Like?
Apartment burglars seek the following:
- empty apartments
- easy access
- lots of cover
- good escape routes
Does this sound like your apartment?
Up Your Apartment’s Security
As a tenant, you actually have a fair amount of influence on your apartment’s level of security. In many states, you can request deadbolts, peepholes, security chains, and other security devices from your apartment’s landlord for a small charge. You should be aware of security risks like burned-out lightbulbs, overgrown shrubbery, and doors left propped open by lazy neighbors.
Apartment security experts also recommend:
- Deadbolt your apartment’s door when you get home. Never leave an apartment’s door unlocked for friends or roommates.
- Remember to lock your apartment’s windows when they’re closed, and use security latches when they are open. These latches should prevent windows from being opened more than six inches.
- Can your front door stand up to a strong kick? Inspect the doorjamb and strike plate. If they are weak or built from subpar materials, ask your landlord to replace the wood and secure the door with three-inch wood screws that attach to the door frame stud.
- Never put your unit number on your keys or keychain.
- If you think it is appropriate, ask your landlord to rekey your apartment to prevent access by the apartment’s previous tenants.
- Sliding doors are notoriously easy to compromise. Test your doors’ locks, always keep them locked, and use a stick in the sliding track to prevent it from being forced. Old sliding doors can often be jiggled right off the track and out of the frame.
- Close your apartment’s blinds, especially if you’re on vacation.
- Use your peephole to make sure you know your visitors.
Remember, to reduce your apartment security risk, you don’t have to turn your place into Fort Knox. You simply have to show a potential apartment thief that your unit is better-protected than the place down the street.
And if you’re looking for a new place, ApartmentSearch.com is the best place to find an apartment for rent. Whether you’re searching for Dallas apartments, Seattle apartments or Phoenix apartments, our free search makes it easier to find what you’re looking for. And if you find an apartment with our site, you can also claim up to $200 in renter rewards!
Has Your Apartment Been Broken Into?
Someone broke into your apartment. Now what?
An apartment break-in is something that we hope never happens to you, but if it ever does, here’s what to do about it…!
Simple Steps to Recovering from a Break-In
- If you suspect that the burglar might still be in your apartment after a break-in, call 911 immediately. Don’t go room to room looking for the thief, no matter how prepared you think you may be.
- If it’s clear that the thief is gone, call your local police’s non-emergency number and report the break-in. Don’t clean or tidy until the police arrive. If you have pets, make sure they are safe.
- If you notice anything in your apartment that might help the police, make sure to tell them about it when they arrive. Helpful break-in information would be possible entry and exit methods, anything the thieves might have left fingerprints on and anything they might have left behind.
- Stay calm. Panicking will only make your break-in recovery harder and more exhausting. Think of it like any other apartment disaster, like a fire or a flood.
- Immediately contact your neighbors to find out if they observed anything untoward when the thieves broke in to the apartment. If they did, make sure the officer handling your case knows about it.
- Report the break-in to your apartment manager and discuss a strategy about better apartment security. Talk to your neighbors about improving apartment security and break-in awareness.
- If you want to make a claim, call your renters insurance agent about the break-in. They will probably ask you for detailed information about what was taken.
- “Break-in proof” your apartment so that the thieves can’t come back. Hide your valuables and make it hard for anyone but you to gain access to your apartment.
Of course, we recommend that you do everything you can to rent a safe apartment as well. Be safe and be well!
If you’re looking for a new place to live, we invite you to try our free search tools to find an apartment for rent. We have listings for gorgeous Austin apartments, Minneapolis apartments, Chicago apartments, and more! And if you find a new apartment using our tools, you can earn up to $200 in apartment rewards.