Reproduced from Buildium
Having property-specific emergency preparedness plans in place will help mitigate damage and protect the safety of your tenants in case of an unexpected event. TheAmerican Red Cross has all of the resources necessary to help you formulate your own emergency preparedness program. Following are some items every emergency preparedness plan should cover:
- Know how 911 is notified in case of emergency – you may well have detection systems (such as fire alarms) that will trigger this but, if not, know who is responsible for contacting 911 and how to best ensure such calls are placed as quickly as possible.
- Clearly mark all emergency exits and fire-safe stairwells; if your property is large, place diagrams where tenants can clearly find them (such as near elevators).
- Make sure fire extinguishers are strategically placed throughout the property and are clearly visible. (Also be sure they are checked on at least an annual basis – your local fire department should be able to help with this.)
- Have explicit, easy-to-read instructions about how a fire extinguisher should be used clearly displayed next to extinguishers. In case of a fire, make sure tenants know to close all doors behind them to stop the fire from spreading and not to use elevators.
- Consider designating a fire warden on the property to account for all tenants and make sure necessary actions are taken (if a landlord does not live on the premises, these duties can potentially be designated to a responsible tenant).
- Identify “safe spots” (such as doorways) in case of an earthquake and disseminate this information to tenants.
- Make sure you are aware of any residents who may have difficulty evacuating, such as the elderly or handicapped.
- Suggest that residents with pets place decals indicating they have a pet on unit doors or windows so that emergency services know to look for pets should a rescue be necessary. Such stickers can be found at your local SPCA, fire department, alarm company, or online.
- Make sure all tenants have emergency numbers on-hand to reference. This should include the fire department, police department (a general non-emergency number for cases when 911 is not necessary), poison control, and a property management company number that can be used during off-business hours.
Of course, we all hope that none of these plans will ever have to be put into action. But for your own and your tenants’ best interest, it’s vital to know exactly what to do… just in case.