DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Crews across the Miami Valley have responded to four major apartment fires within the last two weeks.

Those fires destroyed buildings and left dozens of families without a home. While the clean-up and rebuilding process begins, experts are reminding people to be prepared in case of an emergency.

Cpt. Brad French is the Public Information Officer for the Dayton Fire Department. He said one of the most common causes of fires in apartments is cooking.

“A lot of fires that we see in apartment buildings, really just like single-family homes, often relate to cooking. It’s very important to have fire safety, to practice fire safety when we’re inside the kitchen, making sure we’re constantly monitoring cooking as it happens,” Cpt. French explained.

Cpt. French urged people to take control of their fire preparedness in their apartment buildings, and make sure the property manager is aware of any issues. That means making sure all the smoke detectors are working and keeping doors closed to keep flames from spreading.

“Sometimes we’ll see when we’re in apartment buildings, doors that are propped open, particularly doors to stairwells and things like that. And that can be very dangerous. If there’s a fire in one area, closed doors can help isolate and contain that fire to certain areas,” Cpt. French said.

One of the most important things people living in an apartment can do is get renters insurance. Pam Stephens is the Vice President and Treasurer of Stephens Insurance Agency in Oakwood. She said policies can protect you whether you are directly impacted by a fire, or a couple units below the flames.

“They have smoke damage, and they can’t wear their clothes anymore, or the water comes down from the third or second floor where the fire originated, and the water from the hoses to put it out comes down and ruins everything. You’ve got coverage,” Stephens said.

Most policies are similar, but Stephens recommends looking for one that covers the replacement costs of your belongings, so you get back what you originally paid for them. Most policies will also cover additional living expenses if you have to stay in a hotel for a while.

Stephens said the average cost of renters insurance is $110-$150 a year, which comes out to about $10 a month. She said that is a small price to pay for added security.

“The fire insurance and the theft, that’s so important…that people don’t think it’s a big problem until something happens. And then all of their clothing and all their stereos, all their electronic equipment, everything is gone,” Stephens said.