Tag: weather

Emergency Preparedness Guide and Checklist [Download]

Emergency preparedness can mean the difference between weathering a disaster and finding yourself vulnerable in a long-term crisis. From power failures to hurricanes, emergencies strike every day, often without warning. By the time they do, it’s too late to start planning.

Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do now to prepare yourself and your family for a future emergency. But it can be an involved process, and it’s easy to forget something. That’s why it’s a good idea to start with an emergency preparedness checklist.

These recommendations will help you create your own family emergency plan, including a checklist of steps to take and supplies to pack in a disaster supplies kit in the event of an emergency.

Download our printable emergency preparedness checklist

This printable emergency preparedness checklist can help you take the steps needed for creating an emergency plan to keep yourself and your family safe and secure.

emergency preparedness checklist download buttonemergency preparedness checklist download button

1. Understand the risks for your area

Start getting prepared for emergencies specific to your location by assessing the risks of your particular location. Though there are basic requirements for preparedness, each type of natural disaster also requires its own specialized preparations.

For example, an ice storm might cause an extended power outage, so you may want to install a portable generator. In an earthquake or tornado, you’ll need to know how to find the safest place to shelter. (In both cases, stay away from windows, near the center of an inside room.)

And different regions are prone to different disasters: Texas has been hit by freezing weather, hurricanes, floods, hail and fires. In California, earthquakes and fires are common threats. Oklahoma is in “tornado alley,” and is often hit by ice storms.

Consult relief agencies in your area to get information about emergency alerts for the community, evacuation routes from the area and special assistance options for elderly people and those with disabilities. Ask at your workplace and your children’s schools or daycare to learn about each facility’s emergency plan.

Monitor weather and fire reports via NOAA weather radio. Download a reliable weather app, and sign up for emergency alerts. Wireless Emergency Alerts sent to your smartphone will signal you with a unique tone and vibration, then brief text messages explaining the type of alert and recommended action.

2. Write down emergency contact numbers

Important phone numbers should be available in multiple locations and formats. It’s a good idea to post them on the fridge — along with your home number and address for reference — as well as near any landline telephones. Also, program these numbers into the cellphones of every household member.

Choose a primary emergency contact and at least one secondary contact to call if your family gets separated. One should live out of state, and one should live locally. Tell your family members and loved ones which to call during each possible type of emergency. Remember that sometimes during a crisis, it’s easier to get through to out-of-state numbers than local ones.

It’s also a good idea to know which emergency management and response organizations you may be dealing with following a disaster, such as FEMA or the American Red Cross. Post these numbers, as well, and store them in your contacts.

Program emergency services numbers into your phone and put them near the top of your list, so you can find them right away. Hint: Most phones list contacts alphabetically, so you might want to list emergency contacts with “AA” or the number 1. Then write them on a small card to place in your wallet, in case you’re away from the list you’ve posted, your phone isn’t charged or your WiFi is down.

Here are some numbers you should include:

  • Fire / paramedics
  • Police
  • Local relief agencies
  • Area utilities
  • Work
  • School
  • Child care
  • Relatives
  • Poison control

3. Identify escape routes

Draw out the floor plan of your house and determine which escape routes would be safest for a quick getaway in each type of emergency. Escape routes also should be practical for pets, if you have any.

Post escape route plans in a central location in your house, preferably alongside the important contact numbers, and in each bedroom. Consider loading these directions into your smartphone, too.

It’s important to know when to get out and when to take cover where you are. Fires can occur in any climate and are the most common type of emergency that require escape or evacuation routes; if you’re indoors during a tornado or earthquake, you’re better off staying put.

Strategically store any equipment that could help you escape more quickly, such as collapsible ladders in upstairs rooms or window breakers for shatterproof glass. If your windows or doors have security bars, be sure they’re equipped with emergency releases so you can get out quickly if you need to.

And if you have pets, make pet carriers easily accessible so you can load them up quickly. (Herding cats is even more difficult in a crisis.)

emergencyemergency

4. Locate emergency meeting places

Designate two different locations where family members can gather to find each other after leaving your home. One should be directly outside the home in the event of a fire. Identify a location that’s a safe distance from the house, such as a neighbor’s home, mailbox or nearby stop sign.

The other designated meeting place should be outside the neighborhood in case of an evacuation. In the event of a major disaster that requires an evacuation, tune in to local media and be on the lookout for alerts about where to find help at emergency shelters.

You might also designate an out-of-state meeting spot if it’s common for your whole area to be evacuated, as in hurricane season. Make sure your family members have these addresses and phone numbers among their emergency contacts.

Include all locations in your escape route plan, clearly marked on a map. Post the meeting plan alongside the important contact numbers and escape routes.

5. Practice escaping, responding and meeting with family

Discuss with household members what to do during a fire, storm, earthquake, etc. At least two people in your home should know how to shut off utilities and respond to power outages. At least two should be familiar with first aid procedures to address personal injuries.

Make sure your household takes time to review the escape routes and practice using them so your whole family will be ready in the event of an emergency. Hold periodic drills the way schools, businesses and other public facilities do, to be sure everyone can get out of the building. If you can, have your family meet up at the designated local emergency meeting spots.

6. Pack an emergency supplies kit

Have a go-bag or preparedness kit ready that includes family records and other important documents (stored in a safe portable container), along with survival essentials that you may need during an emergency. Refer to the emergency preparedness checklist below for supplies to include in your emergency kit.

“Go bag” supplies

“Go bags” are emergency kits that contain the essentials for people to stay safe and secure in a crisis. Most items listed will apply across the board. However, you can decide whether you need to pack other essentials that address special needs — for instance, specialized medical supplies, prescription medications, spare eyeglasses, personal hygiene items or pet food.

For more information, check with the U.S. government’s official emergency preparedness website, ready.gov.

Essential survival supplies

  • First aid kit
  • Emergency blanket
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Extra batteries
  • Duct tape
  • Flashlight
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Pocket knife
  • Sleeping bag/tent
  • Drinking water
  • Protein bars
  • Canned food
  • Manual can opener

Additional supplies

  • Cellphone
  • Cellphone charger
  • Credit cards
  • Birth certificates
  • Garbage bags
  • Insurance policies
  • Traveler’s checks
  • Contact information
  • Sturdy shoes
  • Sleeping bags
  • Face mask
  • Rain gear, if applicable

Tool kit supplies

  • Pliers
  • Pocket knife
  • First aid kit
  • Duct tape
  • Can opener
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Flashlight
  • Extra batteries]

Personal hygiene and health supplies

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Toilet paper
  • Prescription medications
  • Feminine supplies
  • Extra change of clothing
  • Washcloths
  • Household chlorine bleach
  • Clean wipes or towelettes

Food and drink supplies

Plan on having a 3-day supply of non-perishable food in a waterproof container, plus a supply of water. Keep a gallon of water per day for each person for several days, to be used for drinking and sanitation. Pack as lightly as possible without leaving out essentials. Foods like protein bars are great space- and weight-savers.

  • Drinking water
  • Peanut butter
  • Granola bars
  • Vacuum-packed meats
  • Canned foods
  • Crackers
  • Protein bars

Stay safe with our emergency preparedness checklist

It can be a complicated process to create an emergency plan and assemble a kit of supplies for your family. But it’s an endeavor that’s worth every moment of effort when your preparations keep your family safe and secure during a disaster.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

What to Do in a Power Outage at Your Apartment

Power outages do more than just put out all your lights. Losing power can lead to ruined food, loss of internet and the inability to live comfortably in your apartment.

On average, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, a typical power outage lasts around two hours. While this isn’t long enough to wreak major havoc in your home, it’s enough to highly inconvenience you.

What to do in a power outage

The most important thing to do in a power outage is not panic. These things happen, and as long as you’re able to think clearly and make good decisions, you’ll get through the darkness.

1. Check your circuit breaker box

Circuit breaker box during a power outage.

The first thing to establish when you lose power is whether it’s a single unit issue or something more widespread. Making sure a circuit breaker isn’t tripped in your own apartment is the best place to start.

You’ll usually find your breaker box in a bedroom closet or on the wall in a hallway. Look for a gray or black door, assuming it wasn’t painted over to match the wall. Make sure you have a flashlight with you to see everything clearly.

When you open the box, you’ll notice if a breaker has tripped because it won’t firmly be in the “on” position. You can check each breaker to see if it wiggles too. If a breaker is in the “off” position or looks like it’s sitting in the middle, you’ve got a tripped breaker. Just flip the breaker back on and you’re back in business. If the breaker is in the middle, switch it all the way off before turning it back on.

2. Report the problem

Man in the dark during a power outage.

If you check your breaker box, and everything looks in order, it’s time to take the DIY out of the process. Contact your property manager to report the problem and get more information. They’ll most likely be able to tell you whether or not it’s affecting the entire building and what steps are in place to remedy the situation.

You can also simply look around to other buildings in your area to see if they look like they don’t have power either. If all the windows in neighboring buildings look dark, you know this is a much larger problem and something the electric company is most likely already working on repairing.

It still doesn’t hurt to report your outage to your electric company though.

3. Avoid damage from power surges

Electrical cord.

When the power does come back on, there’s a risk a power surge will take place. This can scorch walls or even lead to small electrical fires.

To prevent this from happening, go through your home and unplug appliances and electronics. Even though you’re eager to get back to using everything as soon as you get electricity back, it’s best to play it safe until after the power returns.

4. Monitor alerts

person on phone

Even with the power out, as long as your phone is already charged, you should have the ability to monitor alerts regarding your electricity. Check in with your power company for regular updates and report your issues if they haven’t documented anything wrong in your area.

If your power outage is weather-related, keep an eye on local news updates and weather reports to stay on top of any evacuation announcements or other important information.

5. Keep a clean supply of water

Supply of water filling up in a bathroom during a power outage.

With prolonged or widespread power outages, there’s a chance drinking water could get contaminated. This happens when the loss of electricity extends to the water sanitation system in your area.

Even if this happens, the water you can immediately pull out of your faucets is still okay to drink. To provide yourself with a solid amount of clean water when the lights go out, fill up tubs and sinks right after you lose power.

What not to do during a power outage

The most important thing not to do during a power outage is panic. You need to think with a clear head to act safely. However, a few other no-no’s are worth noting when it comes to staying in your apartment while the power is out.

  • Do not open your refrigerator or freezer if you can help it. This will keep the food inside cooler for longer and prevent spoilage.
  • Do not try to use a gas stove to heat your home. You should also avoid bringing in an outdoor grill for indoor heat. Doing so can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. If you have a fireplace, go ahead and light that, but otherwise, bundle up with blankets or get to a warmer location.
  • Do not leave lit candles unattended for light. It’s OK to use them while you’re in the room with them, but make sure you blow them out before you leave. Flashlights are always a safer bet when moving from room to room and make a great first choice in light sources when you lose power.
  • Do not assume you can get out of your apartment complex. If you live in a gated community, chances are the gate runs on electricity. If you’re opting to leave your apartment while the power is out, make sure you either know how to manually open your community gate or that your management office has taken care of the issue.
  • Do not go near pooling water or power lines. If you’re outside at all during a widespread power outage, stay clear of fallen power lines and large puddles of water. You have no way of knowing when the electricity will come back on and charge up a wire or a pool of water where a line is hiding.
  • Do not waste hot water. Losing power doesn’t mean you can’t flush toilets or even take a shower, but the amount of hot water you have when the power goes out is not much. To avoid cold showers, on top of everything else, use the hot water you have sparingly.

Prepare in advance

Since the odds are good you’ll experience a power outage at least once, why not prepare in advance? You can make a lights-out kit to ensure everything you’ll need in an emergency is in one place.

Put together a few flashlights, extra batteries and an emergency radio if you have one. Consider adding a remote charger for your cell phone and even a few bottles of water.

Store your lights-out kit somewhere that’s easy to get to even in the dark.

Stay safe when the lights go out

We all pay an electric bill and come to rely on the utility’s availability whenever we need it. This is what makes it so stressful when the lights do go out. Knowing what to do in a power outage, and preparing in advance, are the best steps you can take to handle the issue until the light returns.

The post What to Do in a Power Outage at Your Apartment appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

Source: apartmentguide.com

Swimming Pool Etiquette: Staying Safe During the Pandemic at Your Apartment Pool

Now that warm weather is upon us, we long for beautiful days outside enjoying ourselves under the sun — this definitely includes hanging out at your apartment complex’s pool so you can cool off. However, there’s still a pandemic, so your usual swimming pool etiquette will look a little different this year.

Because the pandemic is still a concern, many communities are reopening their pools with a long list of rules designed to keep renters safe and healthy. Here’s what you need to know when visiting the apartment pool this season.

apartment community recreational area

Is it safe to swim in a pool during a pandemic?

While COVID-19 can spread through airborne droplets, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says there’s no evidence you can catch the virus through the water in a swimming pool. However, outdoor swimming pools rank less risky than indoor ones, which are not as well ventilated.

Because the chlorine in the pool is a disinfectant, experts say the main risk is being in close contact with other people around you. Following public health guidelines designed to keep you safe is the way to go — so here is what you need to know about the swimming pool rules for your building.

Know the swimming pool rules

Some apartment pools might post information online about swimming safely. If not, call the pool management team or building manager. Most local officials have implemented rules for public pools based on CDC guidelines. You might want to ask:

  • Is pool management restricting the number of residents using the facility or staggering arrival times?
  • Is there a reservation system in place so you can book swim time?
  • Are locker rooms and restrooms open?

Pool cleaning supplies.

Ask about the pool’s cleaning routine

Aside from the pool water itself, tested by the staff, everything else in the area needs disinfecting too. Find out how often equipment such as lounge chairs, outdoor tables and chairs undergo cleaning. You might want to bring sanitizing wipes with you to clean things yourself.

Follow instructions for entering, exiting the pool area

Your apartment building might assign separate entrances and exits to the pool so that people move in one direction and stay six feet apart — just a few inches longer than a typical pool noodle.

Time your visit to the pool to avoid crowds

Try swimming at off-peak hours so you can easily stay six feet away from people you don’t live with. Your apartment pool might have signs and markers on the property reminding residents about physical distancing.

Avoid gathering at the edge of swimming lanes, on the stairs, near the diving board or on the pool deck, unless it’s with the people in your household.

Pool day.

Don’t invite friends to your apartment’s pool

Most buildings strongly suggest limiting visitors during the pandemic. Anyone not living in your apartment should not accompany you to the pool.

Arrive at the pool ready to swim

To avoid indoor areas as much as possible, come to the pool ready to swim: Shower and put on your swimsuit in your apartment. Skip the pool’s locker room!

Pay attention to signs about limited capacity

One safety standard required for reopening pools is the number of people in the space — so everyone can stay six feet apart. If you get to the pool and it’s crowded, come back later.

people wearing masks bumping fists

Wear a mask

Until you actually go into the pool, wear a face mask to protect yourself and others on the pool deck.

Do not wear a mask while you’re swimming — the CDC warns that a wet mask makes it harder to breathe. If your mask gets wet, it’s less effective for protection too — so pack an extra one in case yours gets a good splashing.

Bring your own pool accessories

Even if your apartment pool has goggles, snorkels, life jackets and noodles available for residents’ use, you should bring your own. These items are difficult to disinfect and most come in contact with your face — so unless you find out how often they’re cleaned between uses…avoid taking this risk!

Stick to your own lane

Pay attention to your surroundings before and after entering the pool so you can avoid people coming in and out right beside you.

Once you’re in the pool, leave plenty of room for other swimmers and don’t try to pass anyone if you’re swimming laps. This is basic pool etiquette anyway. Some pools might limit the kinds of strokes you can do to avoid excess splashing, such as the butterfly.

Forget pool games

Whether you love playing Marco Polo or pool volleyball, it’s harder to keep your distance when you’re throwing a ball around. It’s best to avoid close-contact games this season.

Keep your hands clean

Just as you would in any public space, wash your hands before and after touching things. If you’re using sanitizer, wipe off your hands with a towel first because greasy sunscreens reduce how well sanitizer works.

Don’t bring food and drinks to the pool

Because you need to take off your mask to enjoy refreshments, the CDC discourages eating and drinking at the pool unless you can distance yourself from anyone you don’t live with.

person in tube in the water

Use pool etiquette common sense and keep everyone safe

Many pools have staff on site who will ask if you are feeling healthy. Be smart and respectful of other residents and follow pool etiquette. Please stay away from your apartment’s swimming pool if you have a fever, cough or any other coronavirus symptoms that could put people at risk.

Last but not least — don’t forget to wear SPF! Kill two birds with one stone — protect yourself from COVID-19 and sun damage.

The post Swimming Pool Etiquette: Staying Safe During the Pandemic at Your Apartment Pool appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

8 Free Sleep Apps for a Blissful Night’s Rest

Whether it’s fear of getting sick, worry for a loved one’s health, job anxiety, the stress of juggling parenting and career in a pandemic, or all of the above, sky-high stress seems to be the new normal.

While free sleep apps won’t solve your big-picture problems, they could help you fall asleep faster, so you can tackle life’s stressors feeling refreshed. Here are the best ones we’ve found.

1. White Noise

White noise free sleep apps are must-haves for travel, when you need a consistent noise to block out the sounds of other hotel guests, city noises, etc. The ‘lite’ version does the trick with free sleep sounds and nature sounds. For $4.99, you get 50 sounds plus the ability to create your own track that includes binaural beats, aka different frequencies that cue your brain to relax.

Find White Noise in the Apple App Store, Google Play or Amazon.

2. Relax and Sleep Well Hypnosis

Hypnosis usually costs several hundred dollars, but you’ll pay $0 for this hypnotherapy sleep app with four recordings of meditation and hypnosis. Additional hypnosis tracks are available as app purchases for $2.99 apiece. This one made Healthline’s 2019 list of the best sleep apps, so if you’re skeptical of hypnosis, their stamp of approval may persuade you to download hypnotherapy sleep apps.

Find Relax and Sleep Well Hypnosis in the Apple App Store or Google Play.

3. Headspace

Headspace’s guided meditation app is the perfect way to wind down for bed: Andy’s soothing British accent will lull you into a state of total relaxation where it seems like nothing could ever go wrong. While it’s $60 a year, Headspace often makes the best sleep apps lists. Students can pay $9.99 for annual access, and Netflix subscribers can watch the Headspace series for no extra cost. Each episode focuses on one style of meditation, so by the time you finish the season you’ll have a whole arsenal of relaxation techniques to try before bed.

Sign up for a free trial of Headspace or watch on Netflix.

Are you turning more to apps for wellness? Try these cheap or free meditation apps.

4. Deep Sleep With AJ

Deep Sleep With AJ is a cheaper alternative to Headspace, with a one-time cost of $2.99 and similarly dreamy Scottish accent. Developed by a mindfulness expert and therapist, the sleep app includes mindfulness and inspirational talks, bedtime relaxation techniques to help you wake up feeling refreshed, meditations for anxiety and panic attacks and more. You can cue up meditations to repeat a set number of times, so it ideally plays through until you’ve caught those Zs.

Find Deep Sleep With AJ on the Apple App Store or Google Play.

5. Relax Melodies

Combining relaxing sounds, free sleep stories and guided meditation for sleep, lucid dreaming, or relief from medical conditions like tinnitus (ringing in the ears that often gets worse before bed), free sleep app Relax Melodies has thousands of fans. It comes with 52 sounds including white noise, nature sounds, ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response, or that warm tingle associated with sounds like whispers) and binaural beats. Premium sounds are available as app purchases for $4.99.

Find Relax Melodies on the Apple App Store or Google Play.

6. Nothing Much Happens

Think of free podcast Nothing Much Happens as adult sleep stories designed to help you relax into a peaceful slumber. As the title suggests, the stories are fairly low-stakes. Podcast host Kathryn is a meditation and yoga teacher, so think of this as an extended savasana where it’s actually awesome if you end up snoring after five minutes.

Find Nothing Much Happens on Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts.

7. Endel

Perfect for the multitasker, Endel offers “personalized soundscapes” for relaxation, better sleep and better focus. The app pulls data from your environment (like weather, location or time of day), then moderates sounds to match your mood: focus music for daytime work and chill sounds to help you sleep. The app comes with a 7-day free trial, after which point you’ll need to buy a subscription ($5.99 per month or $49.99 per year, at present) or use the free, browser-based version.

Find Endel in the Apple App Store, Google Play, or on Twitch.

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8. Rise: Sleep & Energy Tracker

For those wanting a scientific approach to a good night’s sleep, the Rise sleep tracker app is worth checking out. It’s free to download with membership upgrades as app purchases beginning at $6.99 per month. Unlike sleep-tracking apps which just gauge your sleep cycle, Rise looks at “sleep debt”– aka how much sleep you should get but don’t. The sleep app works backward from your sleep debt numbers, drawing from sleep data and health information to help you improve sleep quality and quantity. Rise fans include pro sports teams and Fortune 500 leaders who find the price worth it to sleep better and wake up feeling refreshed.

Find Rise in the Apple App Store or Google Play.

Most people experience sleep problems for a range of underlying causes, thus it can be helpful to have multiple free sleep apps on your phone. Armed with nature sounds, bedtime stories, guided meditation, science-backed sleep habits and hypnosis for life’s most pressing worries, you can stop counting sheep and cue up what’s mostly likely to help you get a good night’s sleep.

Lindsey Danis is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

6 Tips to Survive Tandem Parking

Tandem parking is probably the least enjoyable “tandem thing to do.” There’s tandem skydiving, tandem bikes, but tandem parking … doesn’t that sound like a hassle?

What is tandem parking?

Tandem parking means you have to essentially share one large spot with the person you live with.

If you live in an urban area where street parking is difficult to find, you’re probably lucky to have a parking spot at all. Many big cities and multifamily developers have reduced the number of parking in new complexes. Multifamily developers are seeing less of a need to build parking lots simply because city dwellers now have the option to hop on city bikes, scooters, ride-share or take public transportation.

In Seattle, for example, 30 percent of new buildings proposed in the past several years don’t include any parking at all. Some designers have advocated for parking garages to be built as flex space that can be converted. Additionally, it’s pretty common now for building management for newer developments to charge tenants for parking.

Despite the cost, some renters are still willing to pay 5 percent more for parking.

parking garage

How does tandem parking work?

Tandem parking is a very long parking spot in which two cars could park — one in front of the other. Technically, it’s two parking spots in either a covered or open lot, but if you were on the inside, the car behind you would need to back out in order for you to get out.

It may be one step above having to circle your block for a street parking spot, but if you and your household have busy schedules, it may pose an issue.

Why do some apartment buildings have tandem parking?

Apartment buildings have tandem parking mostly because space is limited. Older developments tend to have tandem parking, but new buildings also offer this kind of parking structure, as well. Buildings that use tandem spots may often be able to squeeze in more spots.

Here are six tips for managing and dealing with tandem parking with neighbors.

1. Consider a rotation

If the area outside your apartment isn’t all that crowded for street parking, try a rotation from month to month with your roommate. Flip a coin or negotiate to decide who gets to park in the spot. This could also be contingent on who has a busier work or travel schedule.

Perhaps it can change based on the season, as well. For example, in the colder winter months, you can make the rotation week to week since it’s not ideal to park outside in the harsh winter weather with snow on the ground.

empty parking spot

2. Pay extra to permanently claim the spot as yours

Depending on how much you covet your parking spot, perhaps you can negotiate to pay a little more each month to make the on-site spot yours.

Of course, this would only work if both parties agreed. However, it could be worth a shot, especially if your roommate wants to save a little cash each month.

If your roommate is not on board with this idea, perhaps you can look into nearby garages and find out how much they cost to rent each month.

There are also free apps such as SpotAngels and SpotHero to help you find parking spots in urban cities. You can set filters to show you garages or parking meters.

3. Understand your schedules

Because the cars are positioned one in front of the other, the most efficient first step is to understand your tandem partner’s daily schedule. This is probably the most important part of sharing a tandem spot, especially if the previous two tips aren’t an option. If you have similar working hours, a month-to-month swapping of who gets to park on the inside vs. outside may work out.

Whoever tends to leave first in the morning should park last, but schedules may change frequently, too. If that’s the case, communicate frequently about these changes. Also, consider getting a whiteboard to place near the door in your apartment that gives the latest update on when you need to leave in the morning or when you’ll arrive home in the evening.

4. Get a key

If you’ve ever seen a solo valet worker hustle to move cars to bring your car from the depths of the endless rows of cars, you know moving cars is time-consuming. While backing out your roommate’s car isn’t nearly as much work, it can definitely cause delays and isn’t ideal if you’re in a hurry.

In the event of an emergency or if you need to leave and they’re not home or still sleeping, you could give each other a spare car key.

Whether you keep the keys inside of a lockbox in the garage or on your keyring, having a plan for this will give both vehicle owners peace of mind.

girl on phone

5. Communicate often

If you both work sporadic schedules, send a text reminder of when you’ll be home and if you need to leave early in the morning. Having this plan could help you get in and out faster.

If you’re dealing with multiple people in your household who share two tandem spots, you may want to create a WhatsApp channel dedicated to schedule updates. There are also GPS apps that show in real-time when you’ll arrive home, in case your roommate needs to move their car before you get home.

6. Talk to your landlord

Perhaps you live in a building where you sometimes see empty parking spots.

Talk to your landlord, and see if you could pay a little extra to take one of the empty spots, even if it’s just temporary.

There’s no harm in asking your landlord about the options, especially if you and your roommate are having a hard time managing the tandem spot.

Tandem parking is manageable

While most apartment dwellers would rather have individual parking spaces rather than tandem spots, the way you manage it can make your lives easier.

Of course, tandem parking is a lot easier if you generally get along with your roommate(s). If you’re swapping extra car keys, it’s important to have trust and believe they won’t be careless with your car in case they need to move it.

Know each other’s schedules and communicate frequently about any changes or emergencies that may arise.

The post 6 Tips to Survive Tandem Parking appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

7 Insider Secrets About House Flipping To Put You on the Path to Profitability

Ridofranz/Getty Images

Is 2021 the year you’re going to buy a real estate investment property? If you have your sights set on flipping a house for a big profit, you likely know how much work is involved. Sure, popular real estate reality shows like “Flip or Flop” and “Flipping Across America” make fix-and-flip investing look like a feasible endeavor, but you’re wise to the magic of TV, right?

The truth is that flipping a house is rife with challenges, from financial setbacks to breakdowns in communication with your construction crew. Plus, low interest rates mean properties are flying off the market, especially in up-and-coming neighborhoods.

So how can house-flipping newbies compete today? By learning from those with more experience. We spoke to successful home flippers about what they wish they had known when starting out. Hopefully their tips below will help you minimize pain and maximize profits.

1. Stick to your maximum allowable offer

Our experts all agree that buying a fix-and-flip investment should not be an emotional decision. There are certain formulas that every house flipper needs to calculate in order to make a profit.

“Real estate investing is a numbers business, and if the deal doesn’t make sense when you crunch the numbers, you should be able to walk away,” says Hayden Lyon of Cowtown Home Buyers, a real estate investment firm in Fort Worth, TX.

“Stick to your maximum allowable offer. Going above your MAO is just asking for trouble,” says Ryne Lambert, co-founder of Sell My House, a real estate investment firm in Green Bay, WI.

The general rule when determining your MAO is not to pay more than 70% of the property’s after-repair value, or ARV, minus repair estimates. For example, if the property’s ARV will be $150,000, you would subtract the costs to flip (including the cost of a loan, repairs, and other fees) and then multiply that number by 70%. That will give you the MAO you should make on the property.

However, Lambert recommends a more exact formula: “We calculate MAO as ARV minus rehab estimates, selling costs, and minimum gross profit,” he says. “Our detailed formula makes our offer more competitive for sellers while still providing us a nice profit.”

2. Build a buffer into your renovation budget

Anyone who’s undertaken repairs on their house or an investment property knows things rarely go as planned. Permit delays, bad weather, and unforeseen expenses can all throw a wrench in the works—and revise your bottom line.

That’s why Lambert advises new investors to build a buffer of up to 25% into their rehab estimate.

3. Don’t always go with the cheapest contractor

Finding the right contractor can help keep renovation costs in check—but right does not always mean the least expensive.

“When I was new, I thought in order to keep as much profit margin in the flip as I could, I needed to choose the lowest contractor bid,” says Jonathan Faccone of Halo Homebuyers, a real estate consultant in Bridgewater Township, NJ.

“You do have to manage costs prudently, but going with the lowest contractor bids usually end up costing you more in the long run,” says Faccone. “Be cautious about choosing the cheap price and, instead, go with the contractor who offers the best quality and most professional work for your money.”

4. Make sure the contractors have a clear scope of work

You may be able to head off issues with contractors—including plumbers, electricians, and general contractors—by ensuring they present a clear scope of work for the project, experts advise.

“The scope of work usually includes working with the city to obtain permits, ordering materials and equipment, and confirming the house plans. This section will save you a lot of time and money on the back end of the project,” says Shawn Breyer of Breyer Home Buyers, a real estate investing firm in Atlanta.

Most importantly, start building relationships with contractors in the areas where you invest, so you know whom you can trust for any project.

5. Provide a quality product

As fast as homes are selling today, the market is filled with many discerning buyers.

“Often, the ultimate buyer of a flip expects the home to compare with existing homes—or even new construction—in quality and value,” says Greg Kurzner, a Realtor ® for ERA Atlantic Reality in Alpharetta, GA.

Lyon agrees: “Focus on value-add renovations and amenities. Research shows buyers want a nice kitchen and bathrooms. Of course, everything should be functional and up to code, but you want to create an instant emotional connection for potential buyers.”

6. Get your own finances in order before you start

Several investors pointed out the importance of running your blossoming home-flipping company as a business—because it is. That means tracking all of your expenses so you can make better decisions for greater profits. Be extremely organized, and document every purchase order, utility bill, and closing fee that’s involved in the project.

It’s also important to have your own financial house in order before you start.

“If all goes well, you’re about to start making money in large chunks. If you lack proper discipline, you’ll wind up worse than when you started,” says Billy Ross, CEO at RFTA Properties, a residential real estate investment company in Winter Park, FL.

7. Expect to put time and money into marketing

James Fitzgibbons of Ledge Real Estate Solutions, in Windermere, FL, says he wishes he had spent more time in his early years learning how to market homes efficiently.

“We have a wrapped car that we drive around town,” he says. “We’ve driven for dollars, and we’ve used direct mail marketing. Today, we advertise online through Google and Facebook. All of these methods have potential if done right.”

The post 7 Insider Secrets About House Flipping To Put You on the Path to Profitability appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com

Go Green: 5 Tips for Saving Electricity

After a few weeks of talking about ways to go green, I thought an episode on how to save electricity would be a great way to finish out this green series. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed learning ways to save water, to cut down on the amount of trash you create in your kitchen as well as some environmentally-friendly laundry tips.

If you’ve ever Googled “How to save electricity,” you’ve found out the hard way that there are hundreds of tips out there. Some of these tips are easy to implement, but some of the ways to save electricity that are suggested online are tips like, “Use candles instead of turning on lights.” While this will certainly save electricity, it’s not incredibly practical. That’s why I decided to put together a list of some of my favorite, easy-to-do tips to help you save electricity.

Tip #1: Save electricity by turning off lights

If your parents were like mine, you probably still have a voice rattling around your head saying, “Turn off the lights!” whenever you exit a room. Our parents had it right, because there’s absolutely no reason to keep a light on in a room you are not in. If you can commit to simply turning off the lights in every room when you leave it, you can save electricity immediately.

Whether you are going to return to the room in 10 minutes or 10 seconds, there’s no reason to have the light on while you’re not in the room.

Tip #2: Save electricity by turning off (and disconnecting!) electronics

Just like there’s no use in keeping lights on while you’re not in a room, there’s no use in keeping electronics on while you’re not using them. When you leave for the day, make sure all your electronics are off. This includes your TV, sound system, computer, and any other electronic gadgets you may have around your home.

Did you know that electronics that are plugged in, and not even turned on, can account for 5-10% of electricity used in a home?

Taking it one step further, did you know that electronics that are plugged in, and not even turned on, can account for 5-10% of electricity used in a home? Computers, printers, coffee makers, and even phone cords that are plugged in can be energy vampires, sucking electricity (and your hard-earned money) when they aren’t in use. So you may want to invest in a power cord that you can plug most electronic devices into. That way, you can simply unplug off just one switch when you leave for the day (instead of walking around unplugging things throughout your home). Yes, it might take 2 more seconds of your time to turn the power cord on than simply turn the electronic device on, but it can make a big impact in your electricity bill.

Tip #3: Save electricity by taking care of your air conditioner

If you live in an area of the world where you use your air conditioner a lot, this can play a major part in your energy consumption. If you want to save electricity, there are a few things that you can do to make sure your air conditioner is running as efficiently as possible.

First, have your air conditioning unit serviced annually. Most companies charge a nominal fee to have this service completed. It involves cleaning out the coils and checking for any small repairs that are making your unit work overtime. Next, make sure you change your air filters monthly. These filters catch a lot of dust and dirt, which starts to clog them. The more clogged the filters, the harder your air conditioning unit has to work to get the air to pass through the filter. If your filters are any color other than white, making a slight whistling sound, or worse yet, are bent because they are being sucked into the vent, change them immediately. This change alone will save a ton of wasted electricity from being used to cool your home.

Tip #4: Save electricity by making easy swaps

A couple of quick swaps in your house can help you save electricity. The first you may want to consider is using ceiling or box fans instead of running your air conditioner as much. Oftentimes, just circulating the air in a room will help the room feel cooler. Instead of running the massive cooling unit outside your home, a fan uses about the same amount of electricity as a light bulb. For every degree you can raise your air conditioner, you save about 5% of the energy being used. I live in the desert of Arizona and my fellow dessert-dwellers are very familiar with this technique. It costs an arm and a leg to cool a house in Arizona to 70 degrees, so most people set their thermostats between 77 and 81 degrees and run the fans to do the rest. It keeps us comfortable, both with the feeling inside our house as well as when we see our electric bills!

Another easy change is to switch incandescent light bulbs to fluorescent, otherwise known as CFL, light bulbs. CFL bulbs use just 25% of the energy of regular light bulbs, so when you combine that with always shutting them off, you can dramatically save on your electricity consumption. Just remember that CFL bulbs contain a small amount of mercury, so they need to be disposed of properly. Check with your local government agency to see how they require these bulbs to be disposed of.

Tip #5: Save electricity by keeping nature outside

The final tip on how to save electricity is to make sure you don’t have any drafts coming into your home. If you hold a feather around the edges of your windows and doors, the feather should be perfectly still. If it wavers, that means outside air is getting into your home. The more outside air that gets into your house, the more your air conditioner or heater has to run. Seal up your windows and doors with weather stripping, which is available at your local hardware store and is relatively easy to apply.

Also, during the summertime, keep the sunshine out of your house using room darkening blinds and curtains. By keeping the sun out, especially from south and west facing windows, you will keep your house from heating up, which will do a big part in helping to save electricity.

These are just a few tips to save electricity to get you started. 

Source: quickanddirtytips.com

10 Things to Know About Living in Miami

Miami: the historic city of sunshine and vice.

Although it’s garnered an international reputation as a famously sun-bleached party town, living in Miami is so much more than that. Is it a constant party? Yes. Does the sun shine all year long? Also yes.

But when you aren’t getting your fill of luxurious libations, Miami provides some of the best restaurants in the country and an art scene that draws collectors from every continent.

Interested in a richer, more colorful urban life? Then hop on the Metrorail to Brickell and come see what all the hype about living in Miami is about.

1. Living in Miami is pricey

This is, perhaps, the single greatest disclaimer that we must make about Miami. For all of its many charms, it’s not a bargain destination. With a composite cost of living index of about 116 according to the Council for Community and Economic Research, it sits above, even if not outrageously so, the national average.

In fairness, the majority of that sticker is attributed to the cost of housing, which comes in at a whopping 49 points above the national average, even though things like healthcare and utilities will generally be as affordable or cheaper than the rest of the country. The bottom line: Miami requires careful budgeting and some financial flexibility.

2. There’s no state income tax

Now, if the cost of living gave you pause, never fear. The state’s tax structure does some leg work to offset the sticker shock of rent. First, there’s no state income tax. The absence of this payroll deduction line item will help you to save far more on an annual basis than in many other parts of the country.

And if that’s not enough, Miami’s sales tax is only 7 percent, which is slightly below the national average and well below many other large metropolitan centers like Boston and Atlanta, which ask 8.5 percent and 8.9 percent, respectively.

miami weather

3. It has the greatest weather all year long

Don’t get us wrong, the summers are hot. Most use the opportunity to capitalize on what are widely considered some of the most beautiful beaches on earth with a tropical drink in hand.

And then, consider this: While much of the country begins to layer, stack firewood and hunker down for a long dark winter, Miami is still thriving with highs in the 70s and lows in the 60s. Warm enough to go outside and cool enough to feel crisp. What’s not to love?

4. The Heat are a religion

If you’re considering going to be living in Miami, you need to understand something. In 2010, there was a stretch of time during which Miami-Dade County was officially renamed “Miami-Wade County” after the then star shooting guard of the Miami Heat franchise, Dwayne Wade.

It’s important context because this town takes its basketball very seriously. And why shouldn’t it? The Heat are three-time NBA champions and boast a roster of alumni that includes Shaq, Wade, LeBron and, now, Jimmy Butler. And between friends, there aren’t a lot of other professional sports worth celebrating in the area. Yes, we went there.

5. Public transit will get you there

Miami traffic is very, very bad. Like top 10 worst in the country bad. There’s no way around that fact. But it shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. Miami makes up for this less-than-super superlative by providing a multitude of effective public transit options.

The Metrobus services a massive geographical region from Fort Lauderdale on down to the Keys. If you’re staying local, the Metrorail has an elevated rail network that connects all of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

If you’re staying even more local, the Metromover is a free service that operates seven days a week in the downtown and Brickell area and accesses popular attractions like American Airlines Arena, home to the aforementioned Miami Heat.

miami beaches

6. The beaches are nothing short of spectacular

If we’re being honest, this should have been item No. 1. Miami has always been and will always be immediately associated with the beach and for good reason. Miles of pristine and fully public beaches make up the entire eastern border of the city.

Whether you’re looking for eternal spring break on South Beach or a more remote getaway on Key Biscayne, Miami has a beach for every speed. Bring sunscreen.

7. You’ll eat well in Miami

Miami is not just considered the unofficial hub between North and Latin America, it exists at the cultural nexus of the world. And this multi-national, socio-cultural identity expresses itself nowhere as conspicuously as in food.

Miami boasts a pan-Latin and east Asian culinary landscape like none other. With celebrity chefs and ritzy hotel bars co-mingling with cozy neighborhood eateries and cafecito mainstays, there are more than enough pastelitos to go around everywhere from Brickell to the Gables. Every year, the “Miami Spice” food festival produces tasting menus all over town by which you can become acquainted.

8. Miami is a Latin American vacation in and of itself

Miami is, in no uncertain terms, a Latin city. Seven in 10 residents are Latin American, and that number represents almost every Spanish-speaking country on earth and their every dialect and sociolect.

It’s impossible to overstate the richness of colors, sounds and flavors that you’ll see and smell while living in Miami — everywhere from Espanola Way to historic Little Havana. The music, food and people will have you exploring rent prices by the second day.

9. Miami is a constant party

Some stereotypes are earned, and Miami’s reputation as America’s nightclub is certainly among them. Miami’s bar and club scene is a $2 billion industry employing 25,000 people and keeping the bass thumping all year long up and down Ocean Drive.

From salsa to dubstep, Miami has a dance hall or speakeasy to suit your Saturday-night sensibility.

miami murals

10. The city is an art museum of its own

Few cities love their art the way Miami does. It’s a passion that starts with the historic Art Deco hotels of Miami Beach and surges through the trendy Wynwood Walls into the summer when Art Basel rounds out its international tour in Miami. For five days, almost 90,000 people come to see art presented by leading international galleries from dozens of countries in the hopes of expanding their collections and Instagram feeds.

Just walking around the city for an afternoon is like a leisurely stroll through your favorite museum. And don’t worry, there are plenty of those, too! From the Lowe to the Perez, there are plenty of traditional experiences, as well.

Living in Miami is an experience

Life in Miami is unlike anywhere else in the world. A booming economic center collides with a rich cultural collage to produce one of the most enriching and quickly evolving cities on earth. Pull up a beach chair, break out the guava-based treats and join the year-round party that is Miami.

We’ll see you there.

The post 10 Things to Know About Living in Miami appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

Source: apartmentguide.com

Does Renters Insurance Cover Storm Damage?

Your apartment comes with precautions like smoke and carbon dioxide detectors and alarm systems. But what about extreme weather events and natural disasters?

Your landlord’s insurance may only cover the building structure. But you’ve done your due diligence and signed up for renters insurance, insurance coverage that protects you and your belongings inside your rental.

But depending on the natural disaster, your policy could not be exhaustive enough and provide you with enough coverage. Sure, a tornado may be included, but not a big flood or landslide.

According to esurance, the average renter owns about $20,000 in personal property. That’s a lot of valuables, many of which are unable to be replaced.

Learn more about what kind of storm damage renters insurance covers — and what it doesn’t — and how to make sure you’re covered. If you’re not sure about your coverage, don’t hesitate to reach out to your insurance agent.

You’re covered for these

Most renters insurance policies cover damage from hail, lighting, windstorms, wildfires and the weight (think ceiling/roof) of ice, snow and sleet.

These perils, as they’re called by the insurance company, are often covered and you may receive a reimbursement to replace your damaged items.

If the wind breaks a window and your living room furniture gets ruined from the hurricane-force winds, you may be covered under your policy.

When speaking to your agent, depending on how bad the storm damage is, make sure that your policy covers alternative housing while repairs are ongoing. Your renters insurance may pay for you to stay at a hotel in the meantime.

You’re not covered for flood damage

Nearly 41 million Americans currently live in flood zones. But renters insurance does not cover flood damage, just water damage caused by appliances.

If there’s a high risk of floods in your area, consider an umbrella flood policy to protect yourself and your belongings. First, use the FEMA Flood Map to identify your area and its risk of flood.

If you need protection, the National Flood Insurance Program, a community program insurance policy, offers access to participating flood insurance providers. Before signing, ask how soon until the policy goes into effect — 30 days is the standard.

The flood policy will help you return your property to pre-flood conditions, according to FEMA.

flooding

Or earth movement

Half of U.S. residents are at risk for damage from an earthquake, according to the United States Geological Survey’s (USGS). Most people think of California and the Pacific Northwest. But there are many spots around the country that exhibit earthquakes with enough magnitude to cause damage. Just last December, scientists recorded a 4.4 earthquake in Tennessee.

Earth movement doesn’t only include earthquakes, but also landslides and volcanic eruption. None of these events are included in your renters insurance coverage.

Depending on your home’s location, you may consider buying an additional policy for earthquake, landslide or earth movement protection. According to USAA, there are grants available in California to discount the price of earthquake insurance.

For landslides, an additional policy is required. It’s based on the property’s slope, house value, closeness to nearby mountains and hills and frequency of landslides. It’s expensive so be sure that your home needs it before pulling the trigger.

Choosing reimbursement

The main issue will be replacing your valuables after the storm damage. When looking for the best policy for you, talk to your agent about the benefit of replacement cost coverage vs. actual cash value coverage.

Depending on your items, one may be better than the other. Replacement reimbursement gives you the value amount for the item as if it was purchased today. The actual cash value is the depreciated value of it before the damage occurred.

How can your property manager help?

After the incident, follow up with your landlord or property manager to confirm the timeline of repairs. If the storm damaged the outside of the structure and deemed your home less than optimal for living, inquire about reimbursement for alternative living costs.

Inventory all damaged belongings once it’s safe to do so after the storm. Let your landlord know that you’re coordinating as well with your renter’s insurance. You’ll be glad that you have an up-to-date policy to help you get back on your feet during this scary time.

The post Does Renters Insurance Cover Storm Damage? appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

Source: apartmentguide.com