Hurricane Season is upon us. In an effort to help prepare for this season, here are suggested hurricane preparedness tips from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Ready campaign:
1. Create an emergency preparedness kit
Build an emergency kit for the front office with essential supplies like a flashlight, blanket, fire extinguisher, battery-powered or hand-crank radio, whistle, first aid kit and basic tools like a wrench and hammer. Also, include one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days for drinking and sanitation.
2. Be aware of the surroundings
Residents and staff should know the surroundings. Learn the elevation level of the property and whether the area is prone to flooding. This will help everyone know how the property will be affected when storm surge or tidal flooding are forecasted. Also, identify levees and dams in the area, as well as hurricane evacuation routes. Create an evacuation plan and post throughout the community.
3. Establish a communications plan
Have a communications plan and include social media options available today. The usual standbys like cell phones, walkie-talkies and two-way radios are useful for staff and residents to communicate during any type of disaster. Access to Wi-Fi is a big plus. Keep extra batteries on hand for cell phones and laptops, too.
4. Secure the property to minimize damage
When word hits that a big storm is coming your way, you can bet there will be a big run on plywood to cover windows and other supplies. Covering all the windows on a 250-unit apartment may be impossible, but doing so at the office and in indoor common areas will be beneficial so that operations can continue in the wake of the storm. Allow plenty of time to secure the property.
5. Prepare the exterior of the property
Be sure that trees and shrubs around the property are well trimmed so they are more wind resistant. Also, clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts, and bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down.
6. Get your residents ready
Above all, prepare your residents. Social media and property web pages are a great way to bring hurricane awareness to residents, as are printed newsletters and flyers. These can be essential tools for communicating with residents about evacuation plans and what to do in the event of a storm. Also, you may want to enlist local authorities to help with emergency preparedness by hosting a special event or community gathering. It is also a good idea to send out a Hurricane Preparedness checklist to your tenants (the Red Cross has a checklist that can be found here: Red Cross Checklist.
Reporting a Property Claim After a Hurricane
After the hurricane has passed and it is safe to inspect your property, follow this checklist in order to properly report any property damage to the insurance carrier.
Hurricane threats should be taken seriously. As history has proven, significant damage resulting from wind and flooding can be catastrophic. Is your apartment community ready for hurricane season?