Emergency Prepardness 101 On the Front Lines of Dealing with Disasters

 While the basics of preventing—and surviving—common disasters like fires or severe weather events should be well known to  anybody living in a community association or planned development, the reality  is that each building community is equipped with different equipment,  constructed with different materials, and served by unique escape routes for  emergencies.

 In some worst-case scenarios, a building or association can become practically  its own island—so it’s important for board members and management to devise customized emergency  plans for their community. That way if the unthinkable happens, everyone can  escape quickly and safely.  

 Have a Plan

 Perhaps surprisingly, given South Florida's vulnerability to hurricanes and  other major weather events, “There is no statutory requirement for a community to have a hurricane plan or  preparedness guidelines or standard operating procedures,” says Bill Worrall, corporate vice president of The Continental Group (TCG) in  Hollywood.  

 But just because it's not legally mandated is no excuse not to have a solid plan  in place for when the inevitable storm arrives. A condo association's  management could be held liable if there's no plan in place and tragedy results  during an emergency. In short, preparedness is not an option; it's part of a  board/management team’s fiduciary responsibility. Boards should work with their management  professionals to formulate the most sensible, effective plan for their  particular community. “We do hurricane planning proactively as a community manager,” Worrall says. “For us it’s service delivery, it’s a minimum expectation and obligation to assist our clients in the protection  of their assets and their properties. The board makes the final decisions and  we respect that, but it’s our job to bring best practices and communication tools to our clients, and  then to implement them.”  

 “In a large condo or co-op, the association’s responsibility includes all the common areas and amenities, the guardhouse,  and entryway—and because they’re typically large buildings, high-density communities have physical-plant  equipment such as climate control, emergency generators, elevators, fire-alarm  systems, emergency lighting, and other life-safety systems, that require  additional protection and maintenance. A hurricane plan tells everybody what to  do with each piece of equipment.”  

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