Summer Storm Safety Tips for Your Apartment Complex

As summer approaches, so does storm season. Severe weather can often be very unpredictable and require incredibly expensive repairs, so it’s a great idea to have a storm safety plan in place.

Most natural disasters and severe weather just cause localized problems, but there are always a few events each year that result in widespread damage. Many of these larger severe weather events occur during the summer months. In fact, nearly half of all of the billion-dollar weather events in 2018 struck between May and September.

weather disaster mapweather disaster map


Keeping yourself safe in your apartment during severe weather

While it’s important to have a personalized safety plan no matter where you reside, if you live in an apartment complex that plan will be a little different than those for people who live in houses.

To get you ready for the summer, here are some apartment complex storm safety tips that will make sure you stay safe if an emergency strikes.

1. Know your apartment complex’s emergency exits and storm protocols

If, for any reason, you find yourself having to leave your apartment unit during severe weather, knowing where every shelter and fire exit in the complex is crucial. Have your leasing agent explain storm safety and evacuation plans.

2. Designate shelters in your own unit

Depending on the style of your complex, you may not always have access to a shelter outside of your unit. Make sure you designate a location inside your home, preferably with no windows, where you can go if a storm causes you to be unsafe by windows or doors.

To prepare for a serious storm, make sure you keep a mattress or large piece of furniture by your designated safe spot so you can take cover under it if you need to protect yourself from debris.

3. Prepare a severe weather safety kit

Because severe weather can begin unexpectedly, it’s a great idea to have a safety kit ready at all times. In addition to first aid items like bandaids, gauze, gloves and disinfectant, add things like a flashlight and batteries, a portable radio, nonperishable food and water bottles, cash and a list of emergency contacts and phone numbers.

Keep all these items together in a large, clear bin so you’re not frantically looking for something you really need if the time ever comes. Storm safety experts recommend keeping a 10-day supply of all food, water and safety items.

4. When weather gets severe, get low

If tornadoes or debris become a concern during bad weather and you live in a high-rise or on a high floor, take shelter somewhere as low as you can possibly go.

According to Accuweather:

“Two of the most fundamental precautions that you can take in the event of a tornado, no matter where you are, is staying low to or below the ground in an interior space away from windows and covering your head with your hands and arms.”

If it becomes impossible to get to a lower floor, go somewhere as close to the middle of the building, as far away from windows and doors as possible, preferably in a very small room. Closets, bathrooms, laundry rooms and hallways may be safe options.

Cover yourself with as much protection (like furniture, cushions or a mattress) as you can. It might be a good idea to put a plan in place with neighbors on lower floors if your complex doesn’t have a designated safe-zone and you live on a high floor.

5. Bring the outdoors in and protect windows and doors

If you have a balcony or patio area, bring in any outdoor furniture, decorations, planters or other items that can become storm debris if winds get intense. For hurricanes and intense storms, put shutters up on any sliding glass doors and windows to protect windows from any debris and any impending damage.

If you’re a renter, make sure you know ahead of time whether your landlord provides shutters for you so you’re not stuck purchasing and installing them with the short notice of a bad storm.

6. Have a plan for your vehicle

Especially if your apartment complex doesn’t offer covered parking, figure out somewhere safe and covered for you to park your car or motorcycle while you ride out the storm.

Cars parked outside are likely to incur damage from flying debris, and there’s nothing worse than finding your car destroyed by tree trunks or your neighbor’s outdoor gnome collection after a rough storm.

7. Double check your insurance coverage

If worst comes to worst, you might find yourself with a lot of damage to your unit or personal items and will need to file a claim with your insurance. This is one of the many reasons why renter’s insurance is always a good idea to have, even if your landlord or apartment complex doesn’t require you have it.

Likewise, if you own your unit, ensure you have an adequate insurance plan on your home. Double check your coverage and protocol for filing a claim when you know a storm is coming so you have one less thing to do when you’re cleaning up its aftermath.




How to Prepare Your Apartment Before a Hurricane Evacuation

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.

States where hurricane strikes are most commonStates where hurricane strikes are most common

Source: CNN

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.

Before the storms come

Even before hurricanes form out in the middle of the ocean, you should take these steps to start preparing.

Have a plan

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.

Get insured

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.

Make a kit

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.

Shutter up

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.

Take pictures

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.

Before you evacuate

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.

Shut the doors

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.

Secure outside items

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.

Elevate anything that can be destroyed by water

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.

Shut off your utilities

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.

Mind your binder

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.

Related: What to Pack During a Hurricane Evacuation

Bring your pets

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.

Know where to get storm updates

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.

Safety first

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.




Home Burglary Statistics: How Safe Are You?

Do you feel safe in your home? What about when you’re not there? Home security is an everyday concern for many, so it’s important that you are taking the proper precautions to protect your valuables and loved ones. To help you understand the patterns and behavior of burglars, we have a guide on burglary statistics and how to safeguard your home.

Are people securing their homes?

We surveyed 1,000 Americans about their home security and found that:

  • 70 percent of people have security measures in place to keep their home from being burglarized
  • Almost as many people lock their doors and windows when they are home (40 percent) compared to when they aren’t (46 percent) home
  • Only 22 percent of respondents indicated that they use an alarm system and 22 percent said they use video cameras
  • 24 percent of respondents said they owned self-defense equipment

graphic that shows what americans do to protect their home from a burglarygraphic that shows what americans do to protect their home from a burglary

When it comes to securing their homes, respondents indicated that they are more likely to use old-fashioned techniques such as deadlocks (40 percent) on their doors rather than relying on technology such as alarm systems (22 percent) or video cameras (22 percent).

Seasonal break-in concerns

The majority of respondents (56 percent) were most worried about a home burglary in the summer. Half as many (26 percent) were concerned about winter and only 9 percent were worried about spring and 9 percent in the fall. These concerns align with seasonal burglary statistics. According to the FBI, burglaries are most likely to occur during the summer months, between noon and 4 p.m.

graphic that shows seasonal break-in concernsgraphic that shows seasonal break-in concerns

Despite the tendency for people to take precautions by having self-defense equipment and locking doors when they’re inside, a majority of break-ins happen when people are not there to protect the home.

Preventing a seasonal break-ins

The most break-ins occur in the summer months. This is when Americans are most likely to be on vacation or outside enjoying a sunny day. The second most popular season for break-ins is winter. During the holidays, people take trips to visit family and are away from their homes. This is also the time of year when they have valuable presents in their homes.

To prevent holiday break-ins this season:

  • Leave lights on a timer so it looks like you are home throughout the day. Break-ins are most likely to occur between noon and 4 p.m. If you aren’t home during those hours, leave lights or music on a timer so it seems like you are.
  • Don’t leave signs that you are gone such as mail piled up in the mailbox or garbage cans out in the street for too long. The average break-in lasts between eight to 10 minutes. Leaving signs you are gone lets a burglar know they have plenty of time to steal your belongings.
  • Don’t leave boxes from your holiday gifts on the curb. Forty-seven percent of burglaries aren’t planned. Someone might be passing by and see your new TV or PlayStation box on the curb which triggers them to try to break in.
  • Avoid posting that you are out of town on social media. Eighty-five percent of burglars know their victims so they could be following your public social media account.

Burglaries statistics by state

Wondering how your state compares? The FBI has a granular look at crime rates in your state. Below are the top 10 states with the most and least burglaries per hundred thousand residents in 2018.

states with the most and least break-ins per capitastates with the most and least break-ins per capita

Burglary vs. robbery

It is easy to misconstrue a burglary from a robbery. While they may seem similar, they are two very distinct crimes that have different implications and investigative processes.

Burglary is classified as a property crime, whereas a robbery is classified as a violent crime.

According to the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, a burglary is an “unlawful or forcible entry or attempted entry of a structure with the intent to commit a felony or theft.” The specifics of a burglary is relative based on your state laws.

On the other hand, a robbery is classified as “taking or attempting to take anything of value from the care, custody or control of a person or persons by force or threat of force or violence and/or by putting the victim in fear.”

Since robberies are classified as violent crimes, if someone is convicted of a robbery they will find that it carries a more severe sentence than a burglary.

Additional burglary statistics

In 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice reported that there were 1.3 million household burglaries, which was a 4.72 percent increase from the previous year. It’s important to be aware of when they happen so you can reduce your risk.

1. Burglaries are most likely to occur during the middle of the day

According to the FBI, in 2018 there were 346,312 daytime burglaries compared to 218,028 burglaries that occurred at night.

This is most likely because the daytime is when your home is left unoccupied. People have daily routines. Criminals are able to track this and take advantage of the times you aren’t home.

2. Burglaries are most likely to happen in the summer months

Seasonality can impact the number of burglaries that occur. These crimes are most likely to occur during the summer months. This is most likely due to a combination of good weather, longer days and an increase in vacations. With more daylight, there is a larger window of opportunity for burglars to break into homes.

We found that the majority of survey respondents (54 percent) indicated that they are most concerned about home burglaries during the summer months.

burglar climbing fenceburglar climbing fence

3 Burglaries are more likely to occur in rural states

According to the FBI, New Mexico, Mississippi and Oklahoma have the highest burglary rate per 100,000 residents. In contrast, Virginia, New York and New Hampshire have the lowest.

4. A burglary occurs every 23 seconds

According to burglary statistics from the FBI, burglaries happen every 23 seconds. This means, there are nearly three homes burglarized every minute and 3,757 burglaries each day.

burglar stealing jewelryburglar stealing jewelry

5. Your bedroom is most likely to be the target of a burglary

Burglars have to be strategic with their time, and this includes targeting the rooms that are most valuable. According to the American Society of Criminology, in two-story homes, burglars will bypass the living areas and head straight for the upstairs bedrooms where they will find the most coveted items.

When scouring the bedroom for your belongings, burglars gravitate toward small, valuable items. Rather than big bulky items like TVs that are difficult to carry, they steal small items that can fit into their pockets in order to avoid unwanted attention as they exit the home.

6. The average cost of a burglary is $2,799

The cost of a burglary is steep. At $2,799 this could set apartment renters back a couple months’ rent. Many renters get renters insurance so they can recoup these losses if burglary were to happen. While it is possible to get back your monetary loss, the feeling of security in your house is harder to recover.

breaking inbreaking in

7. White men are most likely to break into your home

According to the FBI, 80.4 percent of men are found to be the ones breaking in compared to only 19.6 percent of women.

When looking at race or ethnicity in 2018, the FBI found that 68.1 percent of all offenders were Caucasian, 29.4 percent were African American,1.2 percent were American Indian or Alaska Native, 1.1 percent were Asian and 0.2 percent were Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander.

8. Only 23 percent of U.S. households are professionally monitored

According to senior analyst Dina Abdelrazik at Parks Associates, only 23 percent of all U.S. households with broadband internet have a professionally monitored security system and 2.5 percent have a self-monitored system.

person looking at home security systemperson looking at home security system

How to prevent a break-in

While thieves can be tricky, there are precautions you can take to prevent a break-in in your home. Here are some ways to prevent a break-in.

Install a home security system

The installation of a home security system not only will help secure your home, but it will also give you more peace of mind when you are away. Many systems include video cameras that allow you to see who is on your property at all times of the day.

Park your car in the driveway

This can be an indicator that you are home and burglars will be hesitant to break in fear that they will encounter someone. If you are on vacation, have your neighbor use your driveway as a parking spot to deter any possible burglars.

Lock doors and windows

Locking all points of entry will provide an additional layer of protection when you are away from your home. If you leave a door unlocked or window cracked it will be an invitation for any intruder looking for an easy target.

Install timers for your lights

Even if you are away from your home, putting your lights on timers can give the illusion that someone is home, which can deter an intruder from breaking in.

Be careful on social media

Social media can be a way that burglars track you. Posting that you are at a coffee shop or on vacation will let them know when your home is free to attack. Be cognizant of your social media use, especially when you are not home.

Advertise your dog

Your dog can deter a burglar even if it’s harmless. A simple “beware of dog” sign can make a burglar second guess if they should break-in.

Don’t let the mail build-up

Allowing your mail to pile up is a clear indicator that you have not been home for quite some time. This will make your home an easy target.

Hide ladders and tools

Don’t give burglars any accessories to break into your home. Hide or keep your tools in a safe place where no one can access them but you.

Now that you are more aware of the upward trend in home burglaries in the past years. Be sure to take the necessary precautions to better secure your home or apartment. It is always better to be prepared than to realize you have been the victim of a burglary.



This study was conducted for Apartment Guide using Google Consumer Surveys. The sample consists of 1,000 respondents in the United States. The survey was conducted in November 2019.





Apartment Safety: Fall Prevention

For seniors aged 65 and older, falls are the top cause of death due to injury. Falling is also the number one cause of non-fatal injuries in this age group, which can often translate into a threat to independence, as well as overall mobility and safety.

One in four seniors falls at least once every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and one out of five falls among seniors results in a serious injury, such as head injuries, broken bones or internal bleeding.

This is why it’s important to do everything possible to minimize the risk of falling for seniors living in apartments on their own.

Injuries and risks of falls

injured senior after a fallinjured senior after a fall

Falls can be extremely dangerous to anyone, but senior adults are particularly vulnerable. Men are more likely to die as a result of a fall, while women have a greater risk of being seriously injured.

Some of the most common injuries seniors experience as a result of falls are hip fractures, hip lacerations and head trauma. Other injuries that often occur as a result of falls include fractures of the spine, legs, ankles, pelvis, arms and hands.

There are several reasons why seniors are at a particularly high risk of falling. As we age, difficulty with balance and walking can create more risk. The body’s balancing capability and lower-body strength begin to weaken, and illnesses like Parkinson’s disease can also contribute to an increased fall risk. Those with osteoporosis are especially vulnerable to bone fractures since this disease thins and weakens the bones.

How to handle a fall

If you or a loved one has fallen, the first thing to remember is not to panic. Using a medical alert device is highly recommended, as it will allow you to easily alert the authorities to send medical assistance.

If you’re unable to get up after a fall, don’t force yourself to get up. This can cause further injury. If you feel that you might be able to get up, slowly roll over to one side and pull yourself up onto your hands and knees. Use a sturdy piece of furniture or another nearby object for support, and try to get into a seated position.

Stay seated until you’re medically treated or until you’re positive you’ll be able to stand up without falling again. Always consult your doctor after a fall so they can assess you for any injuries.

Preventing falls in your apartment

hand rail in apartmenthand rail in apartment

Make sure you have good lighting both inside and outside the apartment so you can clearly see walkways, entryways and hallways. Create a clear path inside your apartment, moving any furniture out of the way.

Tape your rugs down with double-sided tape on hardwood or vinyl floors so that you won’t trip over them and the rugs won’t slip out of place. Keep all cords and plugs close to the wall, and tie them together so they don’t get in the way of where you need to walk.

If you’re able to install one, consider adding a walk-in tub to the bathroom to help you easily get in and out of the bath. (Be sure to ask your landlord before making any major modifications to your apartment.) Install or check handrails on the stairs and in the bathroom, ensuring that they are all securely attached.

Fix any loose or uneven steps, and ask your landlord if they can come to take a look to ensure that all interior and exterior steps are secure. Keep all of your cooking items easily within reach in the kitchen. If you absolutely must use a step stool, make sure it’s completely stable before you use it.

Use night lights in the bedroom and hallway and throughout your apartment to help you get around safely during the evening.

Additional resources




Thanksgiving Safety Tips for Your Holiday Dinner

The year has flown by, and somehow we’ve already stored our skeletons and pumpkins, and we’re ready for Thanksgiving. Time to order those stretchy pants as you bring together family and friends over one table.

But with every large event, there are safety issues that occur as you cook a big feast in your kitchen.

Did you know Thanksgiving is the No. 1 day for home cooking fires in the country, followed by Christmas? Yes, that’s more than three times as many as a regular day. Unattended cooking is the culprit for the rise in kitchen fires.

Sure, smart stove apps can help keep an eye on things and alert you, but not everyone has those on hand.

If you’re thinking of hosting this year, read on for Thanksgiving safety tips for this holiday season.

Before dinner

turkey in the oventurkey in the oven

Preparing a large feast for your family and friends isn’t an easy feat, but it can be enjoyed with some pre-planning to save money and time. Check your smoke detectors, switch out the batteries if needed and make your grocery list.

1. Turkey safety

Timing is everything when purchasing the best turkey and the ingredients for all of your sides. If you’re buying a fresh turkey, wait until two days before Thanksgiving. We know it’s not ideal for your busy schedule, but this helps keep it fresh for your meal.

Move your frozen turkey to the refrigerator prior to the big day. The general rule of thumb is to give it about 24 hours for every 5 pounds of turkey to thaw it completely. Place a tray under it to catch any juices and never let the turkey thaw out on the kitchen counter — frozen meat can start to grow bacteria after only two hours outside.

2. At the grocery

Start filling your shopping cart with grocery shelf items before reaching for the refrigerated perishables and frozen foods. After you’ve picked out your groceries, make sure to come straight home to make sure nothing thaws out.

As you go down your grocery list, keep all of your guests’ dietary restrictions in mind. For example, pre-basted or self-basting turkeys often contain soy, wheat or dairy, so be sure to read the labels.

3. Keep an eye for cross-contamination

Use different utensils and cutting boards when preparing meat and produce and thoroughly wash them between each use. We know it’s an extra step, but it keeps all bacteria off your prep area. Skip rinsing the turkey — it’s not necessary.

Be sure to keep the meat thermometer out to check that the turkey reaches a safe internal temperature of 164 degrees Fahrenheit. With a different thermometer, check that all hot side items reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit or above.

4. Don’t forget about the stove

With everyone catching up about this year’s work and life milestones, you can quickly get distracted and walk away from the kitchen. A fire can start in the blink of an eye.

Set a timer on your home assistant like the Amazon Echo, your smartphone or walk away with a potholder. Any of these will jolt you right out of conversation and back to the kitchen.

5. Set the table

So, it’s time to dig in — do you set up the table with name tags and formal place settings or a casual buffet? We think both a formal table and buffet are good options.

If you have room for a buffet, make sure that you set out the cold food first, so it’s the right temperature when the guests grab it. Also, set up sauces and gravy near their corresponding dishes for easy access.

If you have a formal setup, designate your turkey carver and set all sides on easy to grab platters with serving spoons.

While you eat

turkey being served on thanksgivingturkey being served on thanksgiving

First things first — as you start plating sides for the table and putting the turkey on a platter, make sure that you check every stove burner and the oven. Turn everything off.

Move all things away from the burners to make sure nothing catches on fire, and check that the oven is empty. Don’t leave anything still cooking, simmering or boiling.

After the feast

Leftovers are the best part of Thanksgiving. But every year, one in six people get sick from contaminated food. Bacteria grow fast. But if you don’t want your Thanksgiving feast to become the infamous story told again and again at parties, make sure to keep an eye on your food preparation and storage.

As people start to slow down over their meals, start wrapping all leftovers, taking them to the kitchen and placing them in the refrigerator. While a few of you clean, have someone in your family be in charge of entertaining the kids so everything will go faster.

Avoid storing the stuffing inside the turkey. They should remain separate. No food should stay out for more than two hours. Skip any leftovers on plates touched by your guests.

Once everyone is headed home, pack up the leftovers in small, shallow containers. Let them know to refrigerate them as soon as they get back. Store the turkey in the freezer.

You have up to four days to make all the turkey sandwiches and fried mashed potatoes you want, then you have to toss them.

turkey safety infographicturkey safety infographic


Enjoy your Thanksgiving day

Thanksgiving kicks off the ever-tiring holiday season, but with good food and people to surround you, you’ll have a good time. Cook everything at the right temperature, keep your kitchen clean, be careful when handling produce and store leftovers within two hours.

Don’t miss a good meal due to a dangerous kitchen fire. Stay safe in the kitchen this coming season.




7 Back to School Safety Tips for the Whole Family

As the summer heat begins to fade, children are enjoying their final days of free play and parents are preparing to send the kiddos off to school. As the new school year approaches, it’s important to prepare your family for back to school safety.

Apartment dwellers with school-aged children can help prevent accidents by teaching and adhering to these safety tips.

1. Drive with extreme caution

kids walking to schoolkids walking to school

When school starts again, more children will be on the roads in the morning and afternoon hours. It’s always important to be focused when driving, but during the school season, it’s especially important to be alert and aware of your surroundings.

Small children will be on the roads and you may not see them in your blind spots. Recognize those children on the road, err on the side of caution and don’t assume kids see your car and know your intentions. It’s best to drive slowly and cautiously to keep kids safe.

2. Adhere to school zone lights

school zoneschool zone

In designated school zones, you’ll see the yellow flashing lights signaling for drivers to slow to 20 mph. Any time you see the school zone lights on, you must slow down to ensure the safety of children walking to school.

Children may not be observing traffic, and it’s up to the adults to follow school zone speeds to help keep kids safe. Even if you don’t see children in the school zone, it’s better to play it safe to ensure back-to-school safety.

3. Stop behind the school bus

cars behind school buscars behind school bus

School buses are one of the main modes of transportation for kids. When the stop sign is activated on a school bus, never try and pass the bus on either side.

Children will be exiting the school bus and crossing the street. Passing a school bus when the stop sign is on is not only dangerous, it’s illegal.

4. Follow the school’s pick up and drop off policy

dropping off at schooldropping off at school

Each school will have a different system in place to help parents safely pick up and drop off their children.

Before the school year starts, talk to your school and get a thorough understanding of the policy. This will help protect your child and other children during pick up and drop off times of the day.

5. Teach your kids how they’ll get to and from school

kids on bikekids on bike

Not all kids are driven to school, so there are some rules to teach your children about walking and biking to school safely. First, you’ll want to ensure they know how to get to school from your apartment. Second, you’ll want to make sure they know which direction to walk back, which building they live in, what apartment number and floor level.

Apartment complexes can be vast and buildings can look similar to a child. To keep them safe, make sure they know how to get to and from school on their own. Also, if they’re walking to school without parental supervision, you may want to consider a GPS tracker for kids. This will loop you in on their whereabouts so you can confirm that they got to school safely each day.

In the weeks leading up to the first day of school, practice walking, biking or scootering to school so you can teach your kids the safest route to take, how to use the sidewalk and crosswalks and where to park their bikes or scooters when they get to school.

If your children will be biking or scootering to school, teach them to always wear a helmet. Once they get to school, ask the principal where the kids should park their bikes or scooters during the day and when and where they can pick them up after school.

6. Stop, look and listen

crossing guardcrossing guard

This may be the most fundamental back to school safety lesson you teach your children. As simple as it is, it’s one of the most important lessons a child can learn. Anytime they’re about to cross a street, make sure they follow the three-step plan:

  1. Stop at the end of the sidewalk
  2. Look both ways to make sure there are no cars coming from either direction.
  3. Listen for cars even if you cannot see them.

7. Teach school bus etiquette

kids getting on school buskids getting on school bus

As the school season kicks off, kids are excited to ride the school bus with their friends. While this is a fun time of life for children, it’s important they know the proper school bus etiquette and rules to promote back to school safety.

Before they start school, walk with your children to the bus stop so they know the safest route. Next, let them know that they need to stay on the curb until the school bus pulls over. When the doors open, the school bus driver will tell the kids when it’s safe to hop on board.

Teach your kids that they should never run to the school, but that the school bus will pull over for them and let them know when it’s safe to get on. When they get off the bus, let them know that they need to always look both ways before crossing the street.

Better safe than sorry

The beginning of the school year is often an exciting and, sometimes, scary time. Ease some of the nerves by teaching your children what’s expected of them and what could happen if they don’t follow the rules.

And you should follow these guidelines to promote back to school safety in your apartment complex, neighborhood and community. Remember to share the road and keep your eyes open for kids once the school season begins.




22 Emergency Phone Numbers You Should Know (Printable)

It’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to the security of yourself and the ones you love. A quick call to animal poison control can save your pet. Having a plumber’s number nearby can help prevent any flooding if you have a pipe leak. Being prepared with emergency phone numbers on hand in an urgent situation can make all the difference.

How to set up emergency phone numbers on your cell

While it’s important to have these numbers next to your home phone, these days many people use their cell phone as the main phone line. Luckily, smartphones allow you to create a medical ID or In Case of Emergency (ICE) contact with your health information and emergency contact of choice.

Set up emergency contact on an iPhone

The iPhone has a Medical ID option that will inform others of your medical history and emergency contact information.

  1. Go to the health app on your phone
  2. Select Medical ID
  3. Edit so that it provides any medical and emergency contact information
  4. Select the option to show when your screen is locked

person adding emergency contact to phoneperson adding emergency contact to phone

Set up emergency contact on an Android

Androids also have a built-in emergency contact information option.

  1. Go to your settings and search “Emergency information”
  2. Select the option to edit and enter your emergency contact information

Set up ICE info on any smartphone

Another way to make your In Case of Emergency number accessible is by making it your lock screen background.

  1. Go to the notes section of your phone
  2. Write down your emergency numbers
  3. Screenshot the note and save it as your screensaver

Label contacts

Lastly, if you don’t have a smartphone that has these capabilities, be sure you are labeling contacts correctly. Create a contact named “ICE” and put in your emergency contact’s info. It’s also helpful to label your contacts with their relation to your. For example, use the contact name, “my husband” or “my wife.” This way, if you are in an emergency situation and someone finds your phone, they will know who they are calling.

22 emergency phone numbers to have handy

The following are 22 emergency phone numbers you should know. Read through and then print out our list to fill with your local numbers and keep next to your home phone.

911 symbol911 symbol

1. 911

This is a number that most people should know by heart. Dial 911 if you or someone near you is having a life-threatening emergency. If you are using a North American phone, this number will connect you with help. Dialing 911 in a non-emergency situation is illegal.

Some situations when you’d want to call 911 include:

  • Crimes in progress
  • Life-threatening situations
  • Fires (boat, canyon, rubbish, structures)
  • Traffic accidents
  • Hazardous chemical spills
  • Fire/smoke detector or carbon monoxide alarms that are sounding
  • Explosive devices
  • Elevator rescues
  • Fuel spills
  • Smoke in the building
  • Aircraft emergencies
  • Cliff rescues
  • Beach or water-related emergency

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2. 112

An alternative to 911, 112 is also an emergency telephone number, but it’s primarily used in Europe. If used in the United States, most phone providers will forward you to 911.

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3. Local police department

Are you having a non-emergency situation that still requires police intervention? In this case, you’ll want to have your local police department number available. This number will get you in contact with officers that are on duty in your area.

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4. Hospital

In addition to listing the number and address of your primary hospital, you’ll want to take note of a few others in the area. It may be helpful to note their distance from your home. Knowing this information can save time in the event that you need to take a trip to the hospital.

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5. Family doctor

Not all medical issues require calling 911 or visiting the hospital. In the event that you need a personal consultation, it will be helpful to have your primary care doctor’s contact information available.

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6. Poison control

There are different poison control numbers based on your region. Be sure to have your local poison control number available in the case of an emergency. To reach the American Association of Poison Control Centers, call their helpline at 1-800-222-1222. To add poison control as a contact in your phone, text POISON to 7979797.

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7. Animal poison control

Pets are prone to getting into food and objects that are not meant for them to consume. If you think your furry family member may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, you can contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

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8. Veterinarian

Add your regular vet to your list of emergency phone numbers to keep close by. Your veterinarian office will typically provide you with an emergency number if your pet is in trouble after its regular office hours.

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9. Local fire department

If you are having a fire, you should call 911 and they will inform the local fire station. For more general fire safety information such as involvement in your local CERT program or burn day schedules, it can be helpful to have your local fire department’s number.

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10. Water company

When a water line has malfunctioned or a natural disaster has compromised the cleanliness of your water, the local water company can help.

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11. Power company

If you are left in the dark, you’ll want to be able to contact the power company. In addition, it’s important to have this number available to report any downed power lines you come across.

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12. Animal control

For any animal-related emergencies, you’ll want to have the local animal control number. Situations may include an injured or sick animal, animal cruelty or aggressive animal.

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13. Next-door neighbors

Knowing your neighbors can be helpful in times of emergency. Meet your neighbors and exchange numbers so that you can contact them if needed. Add the numbers to your phone as well as writing them down near your landline.

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14. Tow truck

Being prepared for anything includes having a tow truck or your local body shop’s number accessible. If you have roadside assistance such as AAA, this number would be worth writing down as well. Whether your car won’t start in the morning or you get in an accident, these numbers will be of help.

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15. Insurance agent

An insurance agent refers to any person you may need to get in contact with to file a claim in the event of an accident. This could include agents for home insurance, renters insurance or car insurance.

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16. Boss

In the event of an emergency, you may not make it into work. If this is the case, you’ll want your boss to know the circumstances so that your job isn’t in jeopardy.

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17. Co-workers

Similar to your boss, it could be helpful to have the numbers of co-workers. If you do have an emergency or need to take a sick day, you can let them know about any outstanding work that needs to be completed.

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18. School or daycare

Another important contact number to have available is your children’s school or daycare. In an emergency situation, something may prevent you from picking them up on time. In this case, you’ll want to call and tell them you’ll be late or someone else will be coming to pick them up.

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19. Locksmith

Whether you’ve been locked out of the house or need to switch out the locks after a burglary, this time-sensitive issue will usually require a locksmith. Find a reliable locksmith in your area and write down their number so you don’t need to do the research in a rush later on.

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20. Coast Guard

If you are on the shoreline of a major lake or river it can be helpful to have the Coast Guard phone number available.

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21. Local EMS

In some areas, the local emergency medical services (EMS) or ambulance are separate from the fire department and police department. Find out if this is the case in your town and if so, take note of a number where you can reach them.

symbol for wildlifesymbol for wildlife

22. State Division of Wildlife

If you live in a rural location, your State Division of Wildlife number could be helpful to know. This department can help you report any predators on your property such as bears or coyotes.

Emergency contact number printable

Print this list out and keep it visible by your home phone in case of an emergency. Having an extra in your car can also be useful. If you’re visiting somewhere new on vacation, looking up these numbers may be important.

photo of an emergency contact listphoto of an emergency contact listbutton to download emergency number contact listbutton to download emergency number contact list

Keep yourself and your home safe by having these emergency phone numbers easily accessible. No matter the situation, you’ll be prepared to call for help.


WUSA9 | HuffPost




What is Controlled Access?

Keep unwanted guests from getting in.

Controlled access at an apartment allows only certain people — usually residents — to enter the building. This may be done through keys, key cards, access codes and building staff.

Controlled access is sometimes confused with gated access. Controlled access regulates who gets into the actual building, or even a wing of the building. Gated access only requires people to be let in through a gate and once they’ve entered the premises, they can access almost anything within.

Things to consider before moving into a controlled-access apartment

The purpose of controlled access is to keep unwanted visitors out of an apartment building. This generally provides a safer, quieter, more private living environment as you need to either be a tenant or know someone living in the building to get in. It makes it more difficult for a random person to walk in off the street and wander the halls of your building.

It isn’t cheap to maintain a security system, whether it be by key card, access code or building staff, so a controlled-access apartment can cost more. There are often strict rules for having visitors check in, sometimes including special visiting hours, and it can become a hassle for both you and your guests in some situations.

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Pros of controlled access

  • Safer
  • More privacy
  • Quieter atmosphere

Cons of controlled access

  • Always have to buzz in friends
  • Hassle if you forget your keys

Is controlled access a want or a need?

Before choosing a controlled-access apartment, you may want to consider how safe your neighborhood is. In some cases, controlled access is simply a want and in other cases, it may be more of a necessity. In any case, controlled access provides an extra measure of security and can give you more peace of mind.

Additional resources




How to Stay Safe When Returning After a Wildfire

Wildfires are unpredictable, evoke fear and chaos, and can cause severe damage to people, animals, property and land. Most people think of wildfires only occurring in California, but they are common in a handful of states in the western and southern U.S.

After a wildfire has been contained and the authorities have announced that residents are safe to head home, people can feel anxious about the unknown damage that was caused and their continued safety.

When returning home, you’ll want to consider these wildfire safety tips to ensure the continued safety and security of your family and apartment.

1. Wait until local authorities have officially cleared the area

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If the wildfire has been contained or entirely put out, it can be tempting to immediately rush home and start assessing the damage. However, wildfire damage lingers and can cause additional problems like flooding or secondary fires.

So, to ensure wildfire safety, do not return home until safety officials have given the “all clear.”

2. Use caution when entering your home after a fire

Obvious signs of wildfires, like flames, may be gone when you return home, but that doesn’t mean the danger is gone, too. When you enter your home, use extreme caution. Watch for charred or burned doorways and entryways and make sure that the building’s infrastructure is still secure.

3. Wear appropriate clothing

When you return after a wildfire, you’ll want to dress appropriately to avoid burns and bodily damage. Wear long pants, boots with thick rubber soles, gloves and dust masks.

4. Look for loose power lines or broken gas lines

downed power linesdowned power lines

Wildfires can cause damage to gas and power lines, and if you see a loose power line, gas line or meter, and circuit breaker, do not try and fix it on your own and do not go near it.

If they’re broken or damaged, call the utility company. They’re the best resource to safely fix damaged utilities.

5. Smell for gas

After you’ve looked for loose gas lines, you’ll also want to smell for gas when you return home. If you smell gas, turn off the supply tank and valve and immediately contact your local utility provider. Do not enter your place if you smell gas.

6. Check for pockets of heat inside and outside

Assess the grounds around your apartment building and inside your apartment for pockets of heat. The ground may still be hot, even after the flames have dissipated. These hot pockets can burn the paws of animals, harm people and even spark new fires.

As you walk around your property and assess the damage, also look for loose embers or active sparks. Check outside the building and inside in closets, roofs, and attics.

7. Eat and drink safely when returning home

Wildfires can knock out power for several days, so when you return home, get rid of any perishable food from the freezer and fridge so you don’t get sick. You’ll also want to watch for notices of when it’s safe to drink the water because water can be contaminated during a wildfire.

8. Document property damage and conduct a thorough inventory for insurance

looking at property damagelooking at property damage

Once you’ve safely checked the perimeter and apartment building, you’ll want to take photos of everything that was damaged during the fire. Keep a record and list of all items that were destroyed or damaged.

Don’t throw anything away until you’ve talked to your insurance company. Different companies will have different policies and you’ll want to make sure you follow their guidelines to ensure maximum return. It’s smart to have images, videos and lists before a fire, too, so you can prove to insurance companies what was damaged before and after a fire.

9. Clean your apartment

Lastly, you’ll want to start washing all items and cleaning the apartment after you’ve worked with your insurance company. After a wildfire, there will be mounds of debris and ash.

Wet the debris to cool it and get rid of any remaining sparks, and follow the designated procedure as outlined by your community to get rid of the ash. Rinse ash and debris off toys and household items, vacuum the floors with an approved filter and wipe down your floors, baseboards and counters.

Be prepared

wildfire in the distancewildfire in the distance

In 2019 alone, there have been more than 16,000 wildfires, and each year, more than 100,000 wildfires burn through U.S. lands. To stay safe and be prepared for future disasters, here are five wildfire safety tips.

  • Listen for warnings and leave when told: Because wildfires spread rapidly, it’s important to stay on constant alert if a wildfire has started in your neighborhood. When fire authorities or local officials tell residents to evacuate, it’s crucial to heed their warnings, leave immediately and head to a safe zone.
  • Stay tuned for emergency alerts and updates: Depending on the wildfire, some can be contained quickly while others are out of control for days at a time. If your area is under threat, tune in to the NOAA radio and local news for live updates.
  • Create an emergency action plan: It’s not the time to make an emergency plan when disaster strikes. Instead, sit down with your family ahead of time and discuss a communication action plan for future wildfires or other natural disasters. Because phone lines will likely be busy, consider using text or social media to communicate with your family. Discuss where you’ll meet, how you’ll get there and how you’ll notify others that you’re safe.
  • Conduct an apartment safety check: While wildfires are unpredictable, renters can check their apartment and work with their property manager to ensure the apartment complex and buildings are safe and up-to-date. Make sure you’re routinely checking fire alarms and extinguishers as a safeguard.
  • Have an emergency kit: If a wildfire occurs in your community, you’ll want to have an emergency kit on hand. These kits should include water, food, dust masks and first-aid essentials. Apartment dwellers should also consider purchasing a fire escape ladder in case of an evacuation.

When returning home after a wildfire, follow these safety procedures to keep yourself and your loved ones safe and mitigate damages as easily as possible.




How to Get Rid of Mice in Your Apartment

Got mice?

If these pesky pests are in your apartment, we’ve got solutions. While it makes good sense to keep them out in the first place, we get it, stuff happens. The number one thing you should do is speak to your leasing office maintenance crew or landlord. Let them know you need pest control right away! Hopefully they will send in a professional company to rid you of the problem.

But you can also be proactive and takes steps to oust the intruders. You should know that mice live in groups. So, when you see one mouse, you probably have five, six or more squatters.

That’s a problem because mice can contaminate food and food preparation surfaces, which can lead to potential health issues.

Leave pesticides to the professionals

You might think that pesticides are the way to go to get rid of mice. But according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), that’s only a good idea if you’re a pro. This is not a DIY project.

Improper use of pesticides could be toxic to both people and pets, and people with compromised immune systems can be especially vulnerable to improper use of pesticides.

Here’s what you can do to rid your home of furry unwanted irritants scurrying across the floor and more.

1. Use traps

If you’re not squeamish interacting with a dead mouse, then try the old-school method. Terminix recommends baiting the trap with peanut butter, bacon, chocolate, dried fruit or oatmeal. Another option is a glue trap.

Or, you can try something more modern. There are actually traps that use high voltage to shock the mouse. It might sound cruel, but since it happens quickly, there’s no suffering. How does it work? The bait station is in the back of the unit. The mouse enters the trap and triggers a sensor. That’s when a high voltage electric current electrocutes the mouse in seconds.

Alternatively, catch-and-release traps are a humane option. When you trap a mouse, you can release it far from where you live.

2. Seal-off floor and wall gaps

mouse holemouse hole

If you see an opening where wires and conduits are in your apartment, those could be road maps for vermin. Mice can enter a building or home through the smallest opening or crack.

Plug up even the tiniest holes, even the ones the size of a nickel! Mice commonly move through walls, ceilings, floors and even cabinets.

3. Your in-house mouser superheroes

The furry pet you want in your house just might solve your mouse problem. If they’re up for it. Your cat is your live-in pest control agent. Some dogs can take on the task of de-mousing with vigor, too.

Mice love pet food. So, if you leave it out for your pet, that’s likely where your cat or dog will find the pest, nibbling away on his or her food.

4. All-natural repellents

Here’s a natural way to repel the critters as a preventive measure from the start. There are various mice repellents on the market that contain no chemicals and are also pet-friendly.

Ingredients matter, so look for the ones that have peppermint essential oil or balsam fir oil. These specific fragrances cause mice to find the closest exit. Humane and effective, you can find this option as a spray repellent or in sachet or pouch form.

5. Keep food sealed in the pantry

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Mice are in search of food. If you have a mouse problem, be sure that your food is safely sealed. Keep it out of the sight or smell of any mouse traipsing through your house. This means investing in airtight food canisters.

If there’s a package that’s ripped or open, remember that annoying mice can squeeze into even the tiniest opening in a bag or box of food.

Don’t do it all yourself

To help keep mice out of your apartment, have a list of what needs to be done to have a mouse-free home. The EPA recommends that you check your plumbing. Cover gaps and seals around sills, sewer lines and other spots they could squeeze into.

Ask the maintenance team in your apartment complex to do the hard stuff. This includes using caulk, knitted copper mesh, steel wool or foam insulation to block access around pipe openings.