Disaster Preparedness for Apartment Dwellers

Author: Alecia Pirulis

With much of the east coast still dealing with the remnants of Hurricane Sandy – nearly eight million people are currently without power and there has been widespread flooding in New York and New Jersey – disaster preparedness may be on your mind.

Living in an apartment community poses some unique concerns, such as knowing the location of your stairwells and having an emergency escape route planned. In case of a fire or some other instance where you need to get out quickly and perhaps in darkness, it is important to be very familiar with the layout of your apartment complex.

Space is also a unique concern for apartment dwellers. Storage space is often limited in apartments so storing emergency items such as water and canned foods may be more difficult. If your kitchen is too small, try finding space in a closet, under your bed, or even behind the couch – just don’t forget where you put your emergency supplies. Also, keep it limited to what you need and try to stay away from large, awkward, or bulky items. Think streamlined emergency kit that you can hide away until you (hopefully won’t!) need it.

Emergency kits should contain enough water so that each person will have a gallon per day for at least three days – including pets. It should also contain flashlights and batteries, important documents such as insurance papers and health records in a waterproof container, pet food, medications, first aid supplies, non-perishable foods that don’t require a lot of heat to prepare, and photos of important personal property on a CD or thumb drive. You should replace your emergency water every six months. There may be other things you want to include in your kit – consult this checklist for those items you may not have considered.

Get to know your neighbors. It’s important to know who may need an extra hand in an emergency – it is also helpful for them to know you and what you may need. In the event of a disaster, working with your neighbors will help all who are impacted get through the event a little easier.

In an effort to get more people to pay attention to safety, the CDC has begun offering tips on zombie preparedness. What started as a whimsical effort to prepare more people for possible (real) emergencies has become quite effective. If you are prepared for the zombie apocalypse, you are prepared for anything. So try thinking of it this way: if a hungry hoard of zombies were outside your apartment and you couldn’t leave for days, what would you need to get through it until help arrived?

According to the National Center for Disaster Preparedness (NCDP), there are five steps to being prepared. Be sure you take those steps now before an emergency strikes. Also, make sure you have renter’s insurance. The apartment complex does not cover your personal belongings, so if you don’t have it, get it. If you live in a flood-prone area, you may want to ask your insurance provider about flood insurance – it most likely isn’t included. Also, if you live in an area prone to earthquakes, make sure your policy covers damage caused by a quake. If not, additional coverage may be necessary.

You may want to consider learning CPR – the Red Cross offers classes in CPR as well as first aid, emergency preparedness, and pet first aid. If you’d like to help with the victims of Sandy, the Red Cross has several different ways you can get involved – from donating blood to volunteering to financial donations. Stay safe!