Emergency Preparedness Essentials for Property Managers
The importance of property managers and owners creating an effective emergency preparedness plan for their properties cannot be overstated. This idea applies to both private and commercial properties. A sound emergency preparedness plan must protect not just the property but also the people in the space.
How to Create an Emergency Preparedness Plan for Rental Properties
Figuring out how to develop a plan that will serve its purpose and protect everything and everyone may feel overwhelming. However, if you break the process down into manageable steps, making a plan can be done with as little stress as possible.
The following are steps you can take to develop your commercial or private rental property emergency preparedness plan:
1. Identify the Risks and Hazards
You can only protect your property if you know what the risks are. Risks could include human-made disasters like chemical spills, vandalism, fires, or terrorism.
They could also include natural disasters like hail, wind, earthquakes, tornadoes, or hurricanes. Once you identify the threats your property might face, you can develop a plan to mitigate them.
2. Create the Action Plan
Your plan should include the steps that will be taken to secure the property, evacuate anyone on the premises, and provide emergency assistance. It’s recommended that you review your plan and update it as necessary to reflect changes or threats to the property over time.
Specifically, your plan should include the following procedures and items:
- Evacuation protocols
- Procedures for shutting off utilities
- A list of emergency contact numbers
- Procedures for locking doors and/or gates
- Procedures for communication among tenants
- Procedures for recovering after a disaster strikes
Make sure that you test your plan every so often so you know that it will be effective should it ever be needed. Test the plan by simulating a disaster and running drills with your tenants. They will appreciate it.
3. Communicate with Tenants
When the time comes to test your plan, take the time to educate tenants so they know exactly what to do to remain safe in an emergency. Ensure that they are educated about potential risks and hazards, the plan, and how to evacuate.
Take the time to answer any questions they have about the plan and listen to their concerns. The best emergency preparedness plans are ones that effectively meet the needs of your tenants, not just your property.
4. Train Your Staff
If you have staff — whether a cleaning crew, office personnel, or anyone else — make sure that they know what to do and how to stay safe if an emergency strikes.
Supply them with information about their duties, the plan, and how they should evacuate if necessary. Staff members should always be included in the practices and drills. Depending on the size and type of your property, your staff will likely play an enormous role in carrying out the plan and in its success.
5. Get Insurance Coverage
Protecting your property from damage that can result from a disaster or emergency is vital. Whether it’s flood insurance, earthquake coverage, vandalism protection, or anything else you need, don’t delay. It only takes a few minutes for a devastating financial crisis to arise from an emergency if you don’t have insurance.
6. Maintain Your Property
Maintaining your property includes more than just ensuring that it looks nice and is habitable. It must also include taking care of it in ways that will reduce damage if an emergency occurs. For example, you should install smoke detectors and ensure that fire extinguishers work.
Don’t Risk Being Unprepared
An emergency preparedness plan is only as effective as the extent to which you are prepared to implement it. For this reason, it’s a good idea to partner with a professional service to handle disaster situations if an emergency does arise.
An Emergency Ready Plan helps customers limit interruption and activate timely mitigation services while minimizing disaster damage. The right partner can also properly and effectively clean up and restore a property after fire, flood, or other damage has occurred.
Stay in touch with your property and remain knowledgeable about what’s going on there. The most important thing you can do is to be prepared by insuring and maintaining the property, educating tenants and staff about an emergency plan, and partnering with professionals to restore your property if something does go awry.