Before renting an apartment think safety first - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Before renting an apartment think safety first

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

Once you turn to the key to your new apartment, do you know what risks you're taking with yourself, your belongings and your furry friends?  

Mattina Insurance Agent Jo Ann Guthrie says you should. That's why she says, do your homework before signing a lease and you'll be better prepared for the worst.  

"Now we've seen what can happen. Even after Katrina, we've seen what can happen in a wind exposure and we've see, now what can happen in a fire exposure. So you know we need to be more aware," Guthrie said.  

She says being more aware will also make you more prepared.

There are many things people look at first when shopping for an apartment: convenience, cost, and the interior and exterior look of the place. But fire officials say a top concern should be how up-to-date the safety features are. 

"The first thing we always recommend is that you always look for an apartment complex that has a sprinkler system. We know that we've had some fires in the apartment complexes that they had sprinkler systems and that it put the fire out. It caused some damage in the apartment but it did what it was supposed to do it kept the fire from spreading to anybody elses property," said Harrison County Fire Marshal Pat Sullivan.  

Some things you should also consider include knowing what flood zone you're in, the area's crime rate, and how good the maintenance is.

"We really recommend that because with a maintenance program the maintenance people will be taking care to make sure the smoke detectors inside the apartment are working," Sullivan said.  

Whether chose an apartment with modern safety features or not, Guthrie says transfer your risks over to an insurance company. You can do this by always having renters insurance and keeping an updated, offsite list of all your belongings.  

"Someone may spend thousands of dollars on clothing and not a lot of money on their furniture and someone may spend thousands of dollars on their furniture. So you need to know what you have. Make a list. Do an inventory. Keep receipts, take pictures, and take videos. Everything that you have in an apartment towels, bedding, everything, it adds up," said she.

Policies can cost as little as $20 a month covering $20,000 worth of damage and other policies may cost more, but provide more coverage.

To learn more about renters insurance you can call 228-388-2614 or to learn how you can store a list of your belongings online click https://www.knowyourstuff.org/iii/login.html.

Copyright 2014 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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