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Apartment Safety: Are You Prepared for an Emergency?

April 5, 2013 | Apartment Lifestyle, Everyday Living

When you move in to a new place, it is best to get yourself oriented with an apartment safety plan. According to a recent Rent.com survey, most people are not prepared for even the most common emergencies.

Emergency Infographic

The most important thing is to have plan and make it public, especially with your kids if you have them. Here are some more tips to make sure you’re prepared:

Ask Your Landlord

Every apartment complex, especially those over three stories tall, have safety plans that are specific to the building. Ask for a tour so you know where the emergency stairwells, fire alarms and even fire hoses are. They can usually provide you with a map of all of the exits you will need should there be a disaster of some kind. Inside you may feel like a wimp for asking, but you are actually being smart. If a disaster hits, you will want to know how to get to safety.


Check in with your local fire departments website for the most up-to-date information, but here are few 101 pointers.  If you just have a small grease or kitchen fire, use your fire extinguisher (many apartment complexes come with them—again ask your landlord). Don’t use water with grease; it doesn’t put it out, just spreads it. If it is a big fire (you’ll know), go outside, pull the fire alarm and yell “fire” to warn the other tenants. Then make you way to the stairs. Never use an elevator during an emergency. If something like curtains or a couch has caught fire, leave immediately. That can spiral out of control quickly.


Rent.com can’t help you if there is a burglar in your house right now (because we are website, and with the exception of our softball team, not very threatening), so call 911. But we can help you with a few preventative measures. If you are not on the first floor, you have already won part of the battle.  When looking for an apartment, try to get a little bit off of the ground.

Once you move in, there are a number of common sense tips that you can implement.  We went to the pros for this one, so here is some advice from the San Jose Police Department:

  • Lock all outside doors and windows before you leave the house or go to bed. Even if it is for a short time, lock your doors.
  • Leave lights on when you go out. It is always better to walk in to a well-lit apartment.  If you are going to be away for a length of time, connect some lamps to automatic timers to turn them on in the evening and off during the day.
  • Don’t allow daily deliveries of mail, newspapers or flyers build up while you are away. Arrange with the Post Office to hold your mail, or arrange for a friend or neighbor to take them regularly.
  • Check your locks on doors and windows and replace them with secure devices as necessary.
  • Pushbutton locks on doorknobs are easy for burglars to open. Install deadbolt locks on all your outside doors.
  • Sliding glass doors are vulnerable. Special locks are available for better security.

Natural Disasters

We’ve talked about this before, but it bears repeating. One of the greatest things about America is the diversity of its natural disasters. Whether you have a Miami Hurricane, Topeka Twister or San Andreas Floorshaker, you need to be prepared—and according to our survey, only 32% of renters have a safety plan in place for natural disasters.

Yes, it is a pain and can be more than you want to pay (one kit for four people for three days is about $100), but having a Disaster Emergency Kit will pay dividends in the event of one of these events strikes your neck of the woods. This is serious stuff and you should have enough food, water and any other essential for three days for each member of your household.

Your Disaster Emergency Kit should include:

  • Flashlight and Extra Batteries
  • Canned Goods and a Can Opener
  • Bottled Water 1 Gallon per person
  • Plastic Eating Utensils
  • Hunting Knife
  • Back-up Medications
  • Blankets

You can also purchase a kit at any hardware store or online. We suggest you do it in person, so you can feel the weight and know which one is right for you. Remember you may have to carry this.


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