Storm. Credit: Pexels

Aversion/Disaster Mitigation – Preparing Your Community for Emergencies (Part 2)

Once you’ve evaluated the current situation or emergency plan (whether you have a plan in place or not, and if you do, how much and what needs to be altered), it’s time to draft or update the plan.  Work on the plan with your management team, staff, and board members.  Consult with your most preferred vendors, insurance agents and other community members create a maintenance plan to address preventative and recovery concerns.

Create a Plan for Disaster/Emergency Preparedness

Drafts of your disaster aversion or preparation plan should be well-documented, comprehensive,  and made accessible to employees.  Leave enough room for flexibility but don’t create ambiguity.  Furthermore, the plan should incorporate the following information for each type of emergency:

Objectives

First and foremost, determine objectives that your disaster recovery plan aims to achieve.  Identify timeframes for each objective and resources.  Then break down each objective into tasks.

Safety Procedures

Draft a safety procedures document for both employees and residents, detailing practices to help keep them, their families, and team members safe in an emergency.  Nothing is more important than the people’s safety.  Also, detail how residents can avert certain dangers. Residents should be informed of whom to call in case of a disaster and how to evacuate.  It may be helpful to work with the local fire department to practice drills for different types of events to help employees become prepared.

Personnel Roles and Responsibilities

Outline the role each managerial team member and board member is responsible for performing and overseeing.  An emergency situation undoubtedly puts a lot of pressure on employees who need to take prompt but careful action and oftentimes make tough decisions.  Training employees and conducting regular drills can be very helpful.

Resident and Employee Communications

Determine which communication channels and emergency-specific broadcast methods are the most effective for quickly reaching out to residents and employees.  Recognize that there isn’t one communication plan fits all solution.   Some residents may prefer phone calls over text messages and emails, or vice versa.  Social media is also an effective set of real-time platforms that can be used to inform community residents and those outside of the community. Additionally, as your community grows in diversity, it is important to send messages in the residents’ most preferred language.  This reduces the communication gap significantly and residents can take required action quickly.

In a “high-level” emergency situation, using a communication system that features Reverse 911 will overwrite resident primary contact preference and send instant phone calls and email messages.  The communications strategy must also incorporate a contingency plan for alerting residents of an emergency in the event the community loses cellular service.

Vendor Communications

If the emergency situation requires the presence of a maintenance vendor, then you’ll need to have a process to immediately send messages to them.  Residents should have access to maintenance vendor contacts at times when they are unable to get a hold of the management team first.

Performance of all Community Equipment

To prepare for both the anticipated and unpredictable events, evaluate all community equipment and facilities to ensure proper performance.  All equipment must be functioning, up-to-date, and in compliance with local laws.  Make sure that the warranties are renewed on time.

Common Area Safety

All common areas in the community should have emergency safety equipment such as extinguishers and medical kits.  Review your state’s legislature to fulfill the requirements of placing safety equipment and gear in these areas.

Resource Aid for Residents

Catastrophic events are cause of immense stress for residents.  Management should supply information to residents on shelter areas, local Red Cross and other assistance agencies.  Keep this information readily available for resident access.  Include an area map with local resources highlighted and ensure that it is easily understandable.

Insurance Review

Evaluate your insurance coverage every season to ensure that community and resident property have the optimal type of coverages.  Selecting the optimal types of coverages will help minimize financial loss and liability.

Revision

Once your plan has been drafted, reviewed by your team, and revised for any required changes, share the document with your team through a document-sharing service.  As your plan changes due to new internal or external circumstances, update the document and re-upload it.

Pilera Software is a premiere community management solution that provides managers with a simple way to communicate with residents during an emergency.  Send phone, email, or text; choose one out of 90 languages to send automated email and text messages to residents; deliver emergency messages via  Reverse 911, and schedule messages up to two weeks in advance.  Contact us for more information.