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How to keep yourself—and your apartment—safe during serious storms


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Tropical Storm Hermine may have turned out to be a whole lot of nothing here in New York CIty (launching a million rather funny internet memes), but hurricane season is, in fact, in full swing in the northeast. And since we stand firmly in the "better safe than sorry" camp when it comes to severe weather, here are six important tips to keep in mind here in NYC before another storm arrives:

Bring anything that's outdoors back indoors

Anything that's not attached to the ground should be brought in doors to avoid the risk of things blowing away. That includes balconies, fire escapes or terraces, and things like flower pots and umbrellas. Secure heavier items together to increase weight.

Steer clear of windows

Don't stand near windows during a storm and keep your curtains drawn. Leon Geoxavier, an architect and window expert at Walker Restoration Consultants in Manhattan, once told us that larger unobstructed glass windows are more at risk (so if you have floor-to-ceiling windows, consider yourself warned). Whether you're on a higher or lower floor doesn't matter so much when it comes to wind conditions, he says.

And while in the past, experts have suggested avoiding the possibility of broken windows by boarding them up with wood or placing duct tape in an "x" shape across the glass, officials with the National Hurricane Center now advise against using tape, saying that it can cause a false sense of security and also lead to larger and more dangerous shards of glass blowing through a home.

Read up on emergency eviction details

The city's handout on hurricanes offers lots of practical information regarding what to do if you're being evicted, and what supplies are necessary to keep on hand (for example, flashlights and one gallon of drinking water per person per day).

Check your insurance coverage

The most common damage comes from wind or rising water. Ordinary renter’s, co-op and condo insurance covers wind damage—for instance, anything that smashes into your window, or rain coming in through a gash opened in your wall or roof by the wind, says Jeff Schneider of Gotham Brokerage (full disclosure, a Brick sponsor). Regular insurance also covers limited damage caused by storm and/or flood-related power outages, he says.

Be prepared if you have to relocate

You're not responsible to pay your rent because you're facing what's legally called "constructive eviction." Attorney Steve Wagner has told us that if you're thinking about claiming "constructive eviction" you want to make sure you document any and all issues by date.

Co-op residents who can't live in their apartments could claim that they are entitled to an abatement on their maintenance charges, or even try to obtain reimbursement for temporary housing.

Know where to go in your building—and your apartment—if it does become a hurricane

If you live on the first floor, just to be safe, check with friends higher up if you could crash with them for a couple of days in a worst-case flood scenario. This is unlikely to happen this time around, but in the case of a bigger storm (like Sandy) it's good to keep in mind. (Bear in mind that the power might go off in your buildings, turning off elevators.) And once the storm hits, take to interior rooms or the hallway.

***This story first ran in October 2015 and was updated on September 6, 2016.***


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