We all hope never to find ourselves facing an emergency in our block. Major incidents are thankfully rare but they do happen and residents have a right to expect their block manager to plan ahead and make safety their priority.
This week some parts of the country are facing severe weather warnings and heavy snowfalls. Of course your area may not be affected, but block managers should always be prepared for any event that could impact the blocks they manage and have an emergency plan in place. When heavy snow is forecast, gritting and salting are two obvious considerations, especially on large developments and where residents have any distance to walk from parking areas to their homes. Safety company Arco has a free to download guide to salt spreading and a Salt Calculator app available on both the App Store and Google Play. This is a useful tool that enables you to calculate the amount of salt required for each site per application or per season.
If bad weather really sets in, elderly residents or anyone with mobility problems or very young children may need help with shopping or prescriptions collected. This is not part of a property manager's remit, but raising awareness of block community issues is important and a timely reminder to the residents' association - if there is one (or just a note to this effect) posted in the entrance hall, could help someone get through the cold snap more easily. Fire and flooding are probably the two things that we all dread the most. Both can be devastating and cause huge losses. But by developing an emergency plan, including instructions for exiting residents safely, block managers can deal with the challenges of a major incident effectively.
Fire alarms and fire doors should be checked on a regular basis and residents made fully aware of how to evacuate the building in the worst-case scenario. If your block is in an area where flooding is likely, then a flood action plan is vital for residents' peace of mind. This should detail any issues impacting vulnerable residents, as well as lists of essential items for leaseholders to take with them and contact details for the management company and insurers if appropriate. Block managers should prepare for the worst well in advance, ensuring they have supplies of on-site protection such as sandbags or flood barriers which can really help reduce damage. When flood warnings are broadcast, residents should be advised to move their cars to higher ground and belongings should be removed from ground floor flats wherever possible. Residents should also be given a checklist of what to do and where to go should they find flood water coming into their homes.
Finally, don't forget that good communication is vital. The best laid plans are completely wasted if they are not shared. So talk to residents, use in-block noticeboards and newsletters and update online customer portals to ensure everyone stays informed and is well aware of how to stay safe in an emergency.
Mary-Anne Bowring FIRPM FRICS FARLA FCABE Founder/Head of Asset Management
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Ian Barber MD BTR Mobilisation & Leasing
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