DANIA BEACH, Fla. (September 7, 2018) – Entering the second week of National Preparedness Month, FirstService Residential—North America’s top property management company—is stressing the importance of educating property managers and associations on protocols to keep residents as safe as possible if danger strikes.
“Community leaders and managers must work together like a well-oiled machine to protect homes and families by choosing the right courses of action before, during and after an emergency,” said Chuck Fallon, CEO of FirstService Residential. “Our company’s breadth of emergency preparation resources, best practices and training are open to managers and residents alike to help them create response plans best suited for their community to get everyone ready to act when the time comes.”
The FirstService Residential team has compiled the following guide from its own best practices and the Federal Emergency Management Association in observance of National Preparedness Month:
  1. Active shooter preparation Managed communities and multifamily buildings may find themselves in the middle of a shooting event where survival could depend on whether there is a plan already in place. Active shooter scenario workshops for managers and associations can help devise specific procedures and tactics by staff and residents during a shooting; customize Emergency Response Plans (ERPs) and escape routes based on the property’s layout; and perform advance security and risk assessments to prepare as best as possible for the unimaginable.
  2. Fire extinguisher training The U.S. Fire Administration recommends that only those trained in the proper use and maintenance of fire extinguishers operate them when needed. Having quick access to an up-to-date fire extinguisher (minimum ABC type) and learning how to use it properly can make the difference between a close call and catastrophe. Property managers and associations can contact their local fire department to arrange for fire, CPR and first aid training for the community.
  3. Scheduled training for onsite staff Scheduled reminders and drills are necessary to prepare onsite staff for emergencies. At a managed community, such preparedness training is the responsibility of the professional property management company, which may include:
    • Storm preparation drills prior to the start of storm season
    • Emergency management training with local authorities to respond during natural disasters such as a wildfires, tornadoes, flooding or hurricanes
    • Learning what emergency supplies to stock and how to create common shelter areas if needed
    • Setting up evacuation plans for residents, especially for the elderly or infirm, who may need additional assistance to leave the premises.
  4. Shutting off utilities to prevent aftermath catastrophes Compromised natural gas and power lines/systems can lead to post-disaster fires, explosions, electrocutions or other accidents that could be grave or fatal. Contact the local gas company to learn precisely how to shut off natural gas on the property and receive preparation guidance for gas appliances and service. Likewise, managers and residents should be familiar with the circuit box on the property, and for safety, always shut off all the individual circuits before shutting off the main circuit.
    The risk of contamination or flooding from cracked water pipes are another concern. Locate and engage the main shut-off valve entering the property to temporarily restrict water flow prior to an incoming storm, and keep it turned off until authorities say the water is safe to drink and/or there is no longer a risk of flooding at the property.
  5. Clearing out the mess in advance The fallout from debris can be as damaging as the impact of a storm itself. As soon as forecasts indicate danger is on its way, managers should perform anticipatory grounds maintenance including emptying dumpsters, trimming trees, removing or securing large rocks, securing outdoor furniture and preparing the pool/spa area. In multifamily buildings, managers must instruct residents with balconies to bring inside all contents from that area.
  6. Using social media Social media may perhaps be the best communication tool available. When phone lines are overloaded and power lines are down, social media, especially Facebook and Twitter, is an effective way to request medical attention, communicate safety information and stay informed with updates from the city during an emergency. Many news organizations today rely on social media to provide up-to-the-minute coverage of the natural disaster to smartphone users.
For free disaster preparedness publications from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, visit: https://www.ready.gov/publications.

About FirstService Residential
FirstService Residential is North America's largest manager of residential communities and the preferred partner of HOAs, community associations and strata corporations in the U.S. and Canada. FirstService Residential's managed communities include low-, mid- and high-rise condominiums and cooperatives, single-family homes, master-planned, lifestyle and active adult communities, and rental and commercial properties.
With an unmatched combination of deep industry experience, local market expertise and personalized attention, FirstService Residential delivers proven solutions and exceptional service that add value, enhance lifestyles and make a difference, every day, for every resident and community it manages.  FirstService Residential is a subsidiary of FirstService Corporation, a North American leader in the property services sector. For more information, visit www.fsresidential.com.
Sep 07, 2018