- June 20, 2023
- Posted by: @dmin
- Category: Uncategorized
No matter how well you manage your condo, unexpected events can happen. Being prepared for these occurrences is just as important as doing what you can to prevent them. Condo directors are responsible for building and implementing condo emergency response plans that keep staff and residents safe.
There’s a lot more to condo emergency preparedness than installing security and fire alarms. While both these things are important, you need a comprehensive solution that considers any possible emergency that may happen.
This article showcases a 5-step emergency plan development process for condo directors. Our advice is based on the Condo Authority of Ontario (CAO)’s best practices for emergency planning and preparedness.
5 Steps for Developing a Condo Building Emergency Plan
Source: Condo Authority of Ontario
1. Assess Your Risks
Most buildings have separate plans for separate hazards. However, it doesn’t make sense to plan for an extremely unlikely emergency. For example, you probably don’t need a hurricane preparedness plan if you operate in a landlocked region.
So, before you start planning, assess your community’s risks. The 2 main factors to consider are:
- Is the emergency reasonably likely to occur?
- How potentially dangerous would it be to residents and staff?
Answer each of these questions with a 1-5 scale where 1 is low and 5 is high. From there, you can prioritize which hazards to address first.
|Please note that buildings with 10 or more occupants must have a fire safety plan by law under Section 2.8 of the Ontario Fire Code.|
2. Develop Your Plan(s)
Once you’ve identified your hazards, create a written document with your response plan. It’s generally much simpler to have a separate document for each hazard. Response plans are usually presented in a step-by-step format but this may vary based on the hazard and your community’s needs.
Your emergency plan should include the following details.
- Site plan
- Evacuation plan
- Standard operating and emergency-specific procedures
- Communications/alert plan
- Muster point
- Emergency contact information for condo occupants
3. Test The Plan(s)
Before you roll out the plan, it’s important to test it to ensure effectiveness. This involves testing the scenario with a smaller number of participants or testing any equipment functions. You shouldn’t enact drills with your entire community until after the plan is verified.
If there are any situations that may affect the regular plan, have backups in place. For example, consider what to do if you need electrical equipment for an emergency but a power outage occurs.
Once the plan is established and tested, it’s time to let everyone know about it. This includes residents, staff, emergency responders, and emergency suppliers. Everyone who needs to respond needs to know how. The best way to do this depends on how you normally communicate with your community.
Let people provide feedback after you send out the plan. They may offer insights into how to make it more effective.
5. Review and Revaluate
Emergency plans are living documents. You should perform regular drills and review their results. Use the results to reevaluate your plan and make changes if necessary. Whenever there’s a change, be sure to communicate it promptly.
The preceding 5-step process is a simplified guideline. There are additional considerations that you must incorporate into your plan. Keep the following factors in mind as you navigate through the planning process.
Community Members With Special Needs
Some people with special needs may not be able to follow your plan’s instructions for various reasons. When you send out your plan, include a confidential forum where people can request accommodations. Designate a staff member to help these individuals.
If you allow pets, you should keep track of which units have them. In an emergency situation, someone may have to rescue pets from units if their owners aren’t home. Ask pet owners for additional instructions on how to approach their pets during an emergency. Some animals may be more standoffish than others.
Residents with older children may leave them home alone. You need to be ready to help children without their guardians in this case. Families may wish to disclose that they will periodically leave their child home alone. However, you shouldn’t assume that all who do will tell you.
EAL (English-as-an-Additional-Language) Speakers
An English-language notification may not be understood by people who aren’t fully proficient in the language. Consider sound-based notifications and use simple English in your emergency plans.
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If you have commercial units in your building, like a restaurant, there may be different associated risks. Keep these in mind when you evaluate the danger and likelihood of a situation.
Buildings located in high-density areas also need to consider neighbours. For example, your fire plan should include measures to prevent it from spreading to other buildings in the neighbourhood.
The more units you have, the more complex your plan could get. Make sure you consider the most efficient method to get all residents out of the building as quickly as possible. For instance, lay out additional exits if the front door is too far for some residents to get to in a sufficient amount of time.
Communication Matters in Any Comprehensive Emergency Plan
ICC Property Management offers professional community management services that you can use to communicate your emergency preparedness plan to your residents. We help you keep up with quarterly newsletters so you can easily communicate changes whenever they happen.
With community management services, you can improve safety by keeping residents informed of your plans while boosting engagement in your community.
Contact us to find out how we can do this and so much more.