If an emergency were to hit your apartment community, how would you react? Read on for ways to help ensure that you and your roommates are ready, should an emergency situation occur.
Emergency procedures may seem unnecessary — until you actually need them! It is a good idea to check with your local government to see if there are specific requirements or recommendations for procedures about what to do in case of earthquake, fire, tornado or other disaster. Be sure that your plan features a clear evacuation route that guides people out of the building to a safe gathering spot, as well as noting the location of fire extinguishers.
Be sure that you fully familiarize yourself with any automatic systems in your building. If corridor doors close automatically to prevent the spread of fire when an alarm sounds, for instance, you need to know this. In some buildings, elevators automatically descend to the ground level and become inoperable. Make sure everyone in your household is aware of these details.
Furnish roommates and neighbors with a detailed list of emergency procedures and building systems, if possible. If one exists, make sure everyone has access to a building diagram and post it somewhere where people can easily see it. Ask your property manager to provide one and post it near building exits. You should also ask your manager to provide all tenants with a list of essential emergency numbers, including emergency contact numbers and those for the fire department, police department, gas company, electric company and poison control center. Make sure they post the building address on any emergency signage or documentation, as it’s easy to become disoriented when placing an emergency call.
Ask your property manager to provide guidelines for the types of situations which constitute an emergency. Inconveniences such as a slow drain, an interior door off the hinges, or a stove burner that’s not working are items that likely can wait till morning. A sewer back-up, lack of heat in the winter, storm damage or flooding caused by a plumbing failure, however, could require immediate attention and might affect more than one tenant.
In the case of burglary, vandalism or a domestic dispute, tenants need to know that they should contact the police first. For fire or a carbon monoxide leak, tenants should call the fire department immediately.
All the best planning in the world won’t help without regular trial runs. Consult your landlord about doing practice drills that follow an emergency preparedness plan. Local government offices may have requirements or recommendations on how often your type of residential housing should hold drills. Contact your nearest fire department for details.
You can do your part as a resident to prepare yourself for emergency and to alert your property manager about the importance of being prepared. That means requesting information needed to handle a variety of urgent situations, which will help protect everyone involved.