If you live in a big city, you know how hard it is to find any sort of place to live in at all, let alone houses or condos. In fact, apartment prices are off the roof in some places as well. Nonetheless, they may be your only option sometimes.
To give you an idea of how many people live in apartments, over 52% of the global population lives in urban areas. In other words, more than half of our entire race live in the city. How many of us can afford houses in these areas? Well, not too many. The apartment is the most convenient solution for them.
Needless to say, apartments have their flaws. But one that definitely catches our attention is the safety aspect. This brings us to today’s question: how safe is an apartment during a hurricane?
Are Apartments Safe During Hurricanes?
Short answer: it depends on several factors but all in all, it is better than being out in the open. That probably didn’t help a lot. So, that’s why in this article we’ll cover all those factors in detail.
1. How Bad Is The Hurricane?
First things first, you need to assess how dangerous and potentially harmful the hurricane is. There are many tropical storms every year but few earn the mantle of a hurricane and fewer still earn the distinction of being called a major hurricane.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) has developed a sophisticated method to measure the intensity of hurricanes- called the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.
This is a scale from 1 to 5. It’s based on the speed of the wind and was created to estimate the impending property damage.
Hurricanes with a rating of 3 or above are considered major hurricanes. But don’t take category 1 and 2 hurricanes lightly. They can also do a fair amount of damage.
Suffice to say, the strength of an oncoming hurricane is going to determine how safe your apartment is.
While weaker hurricanes pose less of a threat, stronger ones can be devastating. The United States alone has lost hundreds of billions of dollars because of the property damage from hurricanes
2. Have You Taken The Necessary Preparations?
To quote the genius inventor, Benjamin Franklin, "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." He hit the nail on the head with this statement- as it rings through in almost every occasion, including this one.
Here is the thing- you can't always predict a hurricane. So, we suggest always making sure you have everything prepared if a situation like that were to arise.
Don't worry, we'll give a bunch of tips and tricks to be fully prepared if you are ever in this difficult predicament.
Once you take the necessary precautions, your apartment will be a lot safer of a place to be in when a hurricane strikes.
3. Which Floor Are You On?
The floor you are on can make a world of difference.
It could either be a blessing or a curse depending on the situation. Let us elaborate.
You see, if the hurricane causes flooding, then you'd be benefited from having the higher ground just like Obi-wan Kenobi. Lower floors are a really bad place to be in for floods.
However, in the case that you need to evacuate, upper floors do not give you the upper hand. It'll take you a lot more time to descend those floors.
Notice how we said descend? That's right, you are taking the stairs. Never, we repeat, never take the elevator when a hurricane is approaching. We'll cover the reasoning behind this shortly.
4. Is Your Apartment Enclosed?
Just like the altitude of your flat is important in understanding how safe your apartment is in the event of a hurricane, its position tells you a lot too.
If your apartment is towards the outer rims of the building, you are in a pickle. Since you are not surrounded by other apartments, the hurricane is going to hit your walls directly. In this event, we suggest rushing to a room that is on the inside, so that you have a lot of walls around you.
If you are in an apartment that happens to be a bit on the inside, you're in luck. Bet that lack of exposure to open space doesn't sound bad now!
5. How Are Your Building’s Safety Standards?
This is arguably the biggest determinant of how safe your apartment is. You could be surrounded by hundreds of walls, have years of preparation and live on the highest floor but all that will do you no good if your building isn't up to code.
Think of it this way- if the foundation of your building is strong, it's going to be able to take on a lot more damage with relative ease. If it is shoddily built, let's just say the Kool-Aid man won't struggle to break through your walls.
This isn't much of a concern if you live in big cities in developed countries, as governments tend to be strict and thorough when inspecting buildings and impose huge fines on buildings that fail to comply.
The case is different in developing nations as the governments sometimes simply lack the funding to inspect every building. In fact, even the richest nations have trouble conducting these inspections within their budget.
If you live in a country that often suffers from hurricanes, we think it's vital that you see to it that the apartment that you are moving to has a really strong foundation or use a hurricane proof mobile house.
6. Do You Talk To Your Neighbors?
Being an introvert can be fun. You just can't beat a night in where you grab your favorite snack and binge your favorite shows!
While these nights are really fun and quite important for your mental health, you can't do this every night. I mean, you can but you really shouldn't.
It is so important to just step out every once in a while, and get to know your neighbors. You must be wondering, " Why am I getting a lecture about my antisocial tendencies? What does this have to do with a hurricane?"
That's a good question. You see when a really bad hurricane strikes, you'll either be trapped in, or you'll need to evacuate.
In either scenario, coordination between everyone makes the situation a lot more manageable. This needs a lot of communication. This communication will be clearer and faster if you are already chummy with your neighbors. It's pretty obvious when you think about it, you'll struggle to work with strangers in time of emergency.
Are High Rise Apartments Safe In Hurricanes?
You can now probably tell just how much of a safe haven your apartment is. Those same factors also apply if you live in a high-rise building. However, there are 3 things you need to keep in mind.
1. Not Safer Than Low Rise Apartments
It is not going to make difference whatsoever how tall your building is- if you don’t live on a floor that is at least beyond the 3rd or 4th floor even. One of the biggest advantages of a high-rise apartment is the protection from flooding, but again, that won’t come into play if you are virtually at the same altitude as low-rise apartments.
2. Evacuate If You Are Told To
There are a lot of well-educated and smart individuals whose professionals revolve around ensuring that the public knows exactly what to do in case of disasters.
This means that their advice is very valuable and you should follow it. If their advice is that you need to evacuate, then do that. Even if it is going to be a bit of a struggle since you have to use the stairs.
3. Be Prepared To Stay In There For A While
The sad truth is that if you live on one of the higher floors, escaping might be a challenge. By the time you get down, the escape routes may suffer some damage and you may be boxed in.
In such a case, it is important to brace yourself to wait for a while for authorities to come and rescue you, or even for the storm itself to stop. Take the mental preparation to go through this rough period.
It is important not to panic. It is going to take a lot of patience and resilience, but we urge you to hang in there.
Tips To Survive A Hurricane In An Apartment
So, you can gauge how safe your apartment is. However, that isn’t enough to survive a hurricane, but don’t fret. Here are a few tips and tricks to make sure you're ready to sort out the crisis.
1. Plan Ahead
First and foremost, you won’t automatically know what to do when the moment comes. People may call you paranoid for preparing for a hurricane even when one isn’t approaching, but hey, better safe than sorry.
The fact that you are reading this article means that- you are already planning for the future a bit, as you are going to have a better idea of what to do from our tips.
2. Stock For Disasters
We can laugh all we want at Jim Bakker and his apocalypse bucket, but the truth is anyone who purchases his product is better prepared than others while stuck in their apartment.
Are we saying you go and buy that product? Certainly not. It’s expensive and the food tastes really bad. What we’re saying is you to stock food and water in case of a situation like this.
Ok, so you’ve collected plenty of canned food and buckets of water. Is that enough? Not quite. While the list of items you need to have prepared depends on your priority, there are a few more things that everyone needs.
Your next most important stocking agenda should be a first-aid kit for any injuries you may suffer. Also, keep a power source such as a power bank or generator. It will come in handy to charge all your devices in a time of emergency. Lastly, make sure you have a light source such as candles, or a torch so that you aren’t in pitch darkness in the night in case a power-cut takes place.
3. Be Prepared To Make A Run For It
As we’ve mentioned, you need to listen to expert advice. If that advice tells you to get out of your apartment as soon as possible, you do exactly that. In that vein, we suggest you for keeping a bag with all your important documents and some money prepared, so that you can just rush out the door with it.
4. Take The Stairs
To be honest, stairs suck. There’s a reason why everyone hates them. They are exhausting and take forever to climb or go down. Even the most active fitness enthusiasts prefer to take the lift.
But it simply doesn’t matter how excruciating the cardio needed to use stairs is. Elevators are far too risky and we’ll finally tell you why.
When there is a hurricane, electricity is a fickle mistress. You simply cannot rely on it to stay and without it, lifts don’t work. The last place you want to be in during a hurricane is stuck in a lift.
Claustrophobia and being stuck with strangers are the least of your worries. The scariest part is, if the hurricane is bad enough, the cables could snap and the lift could collapse.
We’ve got neighbors of all different types. That’s the fun part about getting to know people. No one is exactly the same.
The matter of the fact is, you’ll have to socialize with all of these people living around. That’s because of what we discussed earlier. Getting out alive from a calamity needs teamwork, and teamwork is hard for strangers.
It isn’t the toughest to build an understanding with neighbors. Just say Hi every once in a while. Talk to them occasionally. You don’t need to go out on the town with them. Unless you want to, of course.
When You Should Go To Hurricane Shelter?
Rushing to a hurricane shelter is the last resort you should take. Although safe, these places are quite crowded. Also, getting out during a hurricane is a bad idea. So, when should you go for such desperate measures?
1. You’ve Got A Hunch
This is the least reliable one. If you are an impulsive person, ignore this advice. But if you are a calculating person who carefully plans out each move, then you should be able to tell if you are equipped to handle the situation before receiving any expert guidance. Be honest with yourself, there is no shame in being impulsive.
2. Expert Opinions
If there is a hurricane on the way, stay glued to the television screen. We meant it. Listen to all meteorologists around, and wait for any indication that suggests you need to evacuate. As soon as you get the green light, get going.
3. Government Mandates
In case you don’t follow expert analysts, the government is your last resort. If the hurricane looks incredibly dangerous, law enforcers usually oversee evacuation proceedings. You will be guided to a shelter by the authority.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can I Predict A Hurricane?
Yes. A few common signs of a hurricane approaching are dark clouds, non-stop rainfall, dangerous winds, and a drop in air pressure. However, don’t conclude too quickly. Make sure you check weather reports before getting ready to evacuate.
2. Are Hurricanes That Common?
They are more common than you’d like to believe. Every year, there are over 80 tropical storms around the world. One-third of them develop into hurricanes. In other words, there are over 25 hurricanes yearly.
3. Can A Hurricane Destroy Your Building?
Most definitely. A level 5 hurricane can even wreck the sturdiest of structures. A tornado watch or warning can rifle straight through a building.
4. What If I’m Not Home When The Hurricane Approaches?
Get undercover at all costs. If a hurricane shelter is too far, make do with what’s around you, whether it be the nearest grocery store or car on the street. You do not want to be out in the open when a hurricane strikes.
There you have it. You can now answer the question “how safe is an apartment during a hurricane?”. Along with that, you know what to do in case a dangerous storm comes your way.
Remember, teamwork is crucial in these scenarios. Be patient, compassionate, smart, and you’ll get through this disaster healthy and happy.
We human beings have some amazing resolve and an incredible ability to survive. Until next time, stay safe out there.