Hands with Computer Tablet and Emergency Evacuation Plan

In the Event of an Emergency

Evacuation is just one step toward resident safety
Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Natural disasters are rising in prevalence with severe weather events occurring more frequently than in decades past. Summer can be a tumultuous season, with torrential rain storms creating flash floods and wreaking havoc on buildings. For condominium managers, being prepared for all scenarios is the best way to avoid major damage, prevent injury and maintain residents’ health and happiness, whether it’s from weather-related events or a smaller scale incidents, such as unit fires.

To help break through the confusion and streamline your disaster response management, here are some quick tips to implement before, and in the event of, a disaster. For a more detailed article, click here.

Preparation begins with planning

There are multiple stakeholders involved with decision making for condominiums: from the residents themselves, to the condo board, the property manager and possibly the property owner. A weather event, fire, or power outage could happen at any time, so it’s critical to establish a clear process with all stakeholders prior to an emergency, in order to be able to act decisively in times of disaster. That process should also be communicated to residents. Discuss the various scenarios that could play out while defining jurisdiction and responsibility. Everyone should know where to go and what to do in case of an emergency, as well as where the building’s responsibility ends and the unit owner’s responsibility begins. 

Test emergency preparedness plans

Condo buildings are required to test and maintain a working emergency alarm, but not to practice evacuation drills. Often, in a real emergency, the elevators will be shut down forcing confused and panicked residents to stampede down the stairwells. This is an extremely dangerous situation, not to mention that there may be elderly or disabled residents in the midst of all the chaos. Having an up-to-date list of residents detailing their requirements, while putting your evacuation efforts to the test, will make the process run drastically smoother in the event of a true emergency.

Maintain leadership and communication

Often the first thing to break down during a crisis is communication. One of the biggest frustrations some Calgary condo residents faced following the flood in 2013 was being cut off from their belongings and not knowing whether or not they could access their cars in the parking garage. Thousands were left in the lurch, uninformed and unprepared. After an evacuation order is issued, residents should be kept up-to-date—whether it’s via a website, newsletter, social media, or email.

Bring in the specialists

After disaster strikes in a condo building, special mobilized resources should be brought in to properly mitigate damage and immediately start a safe and healthy path to recovery. Stakeholders should have a professional emergency restoration provider on speed dial who will arrive immediately, assess the situation and enact an emergency mitigation plan. The sooner this process begins, the sooner residents can move back in. Failure to bring in specialists could result in individuals taking incorrect actions, possibly endangering residents as well as lengthening the recovery timeline.

FirstOnSite specializes in emergency restoration and emergency preparedness. Through its PREP program, the trained team works with building managers in advance to develop protocols, to anticipate resource needs and to ensure clients get priority response in the event of a disaster. Unlike office buildings, condominiums are home to thousands of people, making those speedy recoveries all the more critical.

For more information, visit www.firstonsite.ca
First OnSite

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