Personal Resource Center

Renters Need to Prepare for Natural Disasters Too. Here's How.

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A standard renters insurance policy doesn't cover flood damage caused by natural disasters, so you may need to buy a separate flood insurance policy.

To protect these documents against water or wind damage, consider storing them in a waterproof, fire-resistant safe on the upper level of your home — not in a basement. Another option is to keep them in a safe deposit box at your bank. However, you may need to access these documents soon after a disaster strikes, so make sure you can get to them quickly and easily.

You might also consider saving digital copies of all essential documents in a secure cloud storage service or on a portable hard drive6 in your emergency kit. This way, you have a backup of all your important information that can be easily retrieved, even if the physical copies are damaged or lost.

Remember to update your stored documents periodically, especially when changes occur in your life, like buying a new car or adding members to your family. By taking these preventative measures, you can reduce the stress and challenges faced during a disaster, knowing that your essential documents are safe and accessible.

How to Protect Your Home

As a renter, structural protection of your home may primarily be the landlord's responsibility. However, protecting your home during a natural disaster helps secure your property. It also increases the chances of a safe environment for you and your loved ones during and after such events.

You can take the following steps to secure the property before you evacuate (if local officials advise you to do so) or just before the storm if you plan to stay.

  • Store all loose items you keep outside — like grills, potted plants, lawn furniture, and bicycles — inside. (Saltwater can ruin items in the event of a storm surge. During heavy winds, some items can become projectiles, potentially damaging your home or other people's dwellings.)
  • Make sure nothing is blocking the storm drains so that water doesn't flood your home.
  • Put sandbags around doors, windows, and garage doors.
  • Close all interior doors.
  • Put plywood over windows.
  • Unplug appliances and move portable appliances off the ground or on a second floor since water can ruin them.
  • Turn off the power by setting the circuit breaker's main switch to "off."
  • Turn off the main water valve, located on the water meter.

You may need to ask your landlord where the circuit breaker and main water valve are located.

Be Prepared to Protect Your Home

Waiting until a disaster is imminent to purchase protective items such as sandbags and plywood can be risky. Supplies often run out quickly when extreme weather is in the forecast, and you may not have time to get everything done before a storm hits.

Preparing your home sometimes needs a strategy. Here are some other steps you can take ahead of time to protect your property:

1. Ask your landlord if they have plywood and installation hardware to protect windows. If they do, this will save you time and money — and you can skip down to step No. 4 below. Just be sure to get instructions on where they are stored and how to install.

2. Purchase plywood and installation hardware. Get plywood sheets to cover all windows and glass doors in your home and screws to install them. The Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans recommends using half-inch treated plywood and exterior-rated screws that are about two inches long7 for optimal protection.

3. Measure windows and doors and cut plywood. Measure the dimensions of your windows and glass doors and cut the plywood to the correct size, ensuring a small allowance on each side for securing the plywood. You can have this done at a hardware store if you are uncomfortable doing it yourself. Label each plywood sheet with the corresponding window or door to make installation quicker and easier when a storm is imminent.

4. Buy sand and sandbags. Sandbags are a simple and efficient method for preventing or reducing flood water damage. When properly filled and placed, they act as a barrier to control the water flow and help prevent further damage.

With proper planning, you can rest easy knowing you took the right precautions to protect your family and home in the event of severe weather.

Finally, if a natural storm disaster does strike, it will likely take a toll emotionally, financially and physically. Try to remain calm and logically think things through, if at all possible.

Important disclosure information

This content is general in nature and does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment advice. You are encouraged to consult with competent legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment professionals based on your specific circumstances. We do not make any warranties as to accuracy or completeness of this information, do not endorse any third-party companies, products, or services described here, and take no liability for your use of this information.

  1. Steven Yablonski, “Will 2024 Atlantic hurricane season be active? One early forecast says yes,” Fox Weather published January 29, 2024, accessed March 22, 2024. Back
  2. National Flood Insurance Program, “Flood Insurance for Renters," accessed March 21, 2024. Back
  3. National Flood Insurance Program, “Find a Flood Insurance Provider," accessed March 21, 2024. Back
  4. Steven Glass, “Does Car Insurance Cover Flood Damage?" updated June 8, 2023, accessed March 21, 2024. Back
  5. Ready.gov, “Build a Kit," updated August 4, 2023, accessed March 22, 2024. Back
  6. Federal Emergency Management Agency, “Protect Documents to Start Your Recovery if a Disaster Strikes," updated July 11, 2023, accessed March 21, 2024. Back
  7. Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans, “Ask the Expert: How to Board Historic Windows for Hurricane Season," published June 1, 2023, accessed March 21, 2024. Back