Banner displaying, Emergency preparedness property managementIn New York City, building emergencies present themselves in various forms – from power outages and gas leaks, to floods and fires and even shootings. The one common denominator? They happen when you least expect them. How do you prepare yourself for the unexpected? By having a comprehensive emergency plan in place for your multifamily building! An emergency plan can mean the difference between a situation that escalates into a crisis and one that is resolved efficiently and effectively. 
It’s crucial for board members and management staff to ready themselves for the unexpected. Creating a customized emergency preparedness plan, based on each building’s equipment, emergency processes and residents’ needs, is the best way to begin. A knowledgeable and experienced property management company will be able to tailor your plan so that it fits your property’s specific needs. Here’s how a great New York City property management company can help you develop this life saving strategy:

1. Personnel

Know your staff. Do you have a readily accessible list of emergency contacts and contractors? Building staff and property managers should be trained to understand their roles during an emergency. They should make it a habit to regularly walk the building and grounds, conduct hazard assessments and re-examine the building’s safety systems.

2. Equipment

Take inventory. Emergency response equipment, first aid supplies, fire protection and fire suppression equipment should be on premises and readily available for residents and staff responding to the emergency. There should be storage areas on designated floors of your building to house emergency supplies, including a stockpile of bottled water, flashlights, LED lanterns, glow sticks, batteries and two-way walkie-talkies for building staff and security. Your property management company can help you keep an updated checklist of emergency items on hand. In addition, your building staff should be trained to test all emergency generators on a regular basis to ensure they are working properly for any situation that may arise.

3. Building Features

Are your building’s sprinkler systems and fire alarms in working order? Do you have audio communication systems and defibrillators throughout the building? Sometimes emergencies may need to be dealt with without directly entering the premises. Building emergency features that can be operated from a remote location, such as HVAC, security, and communication systems, are a smart investment. A proactive property management team will make sure to secure competitive bids for these upgrades to ensure you’re getting maximum value. 

4. Residents’ Procedures

Have you made sure that your residents are prepared to shelter in place? Is there a designated, central location for residents to flee if they must evacuate the premises? Have you prepared for what might happen if they cannot re-enter or stay in their residences immediately following an emergency, say during a storm or fire? The locations of evacuation facilities, temporary shelter areas, first-aid stations and even decontamination facilities should be distributed building-wide. Additionally, a plan must be put in place to direct residents to these facilities in an emergency situation.  

5. Back-up Systems

Consider what system redundancies can be implemented to improve building safety, such as backup power or generators. Emergency lighting and photoluminescent egress guidance systems help reduce confusion and panic in an emergency, and can help direct residents to safety. Recovery and support systems should be studied and well-maintained so they can be effectively put into practice immediately following an emergency event. It’s important to be sure these items are routinely tested for readiness.
Are you prepared? On any given day, New York City residential buildings face the possibility of an emergency situation. Although planning is a critical first step, training, drills, regular testing of building safety features and equipment, and a commitment to regularly revisiting the plan to ensure it’s current are all important tools. It’s a big job – and a property management company can help. 
Remember to check back with us continuously, and stay tuned for our next article on how to effectively communicate your emergency preparedness plan building-wide. Every community should have a solid emergency preparedness plan in place. Contact FirstService Residential and we’ll show you how. 
Tuesday November 15, 2016