Emergency response planning can sometimes be considered an afterthought for condo board members, but it shouldn’t be. Developing a strong emergency response plan (ERP) – and reviewing it regularly – is essential no matter if you live in a single-family home, small condo association or large HOA.
How to Create an Emergency Response Plan for Your HOA
A disaster or emergency can strike at any time, so having an action plan in place can help ensure the safety and well-being of all residents during a time of uncertainty. Below are some steps to consider as you develop or revise your ERP.
- Conduct a risk assessment: One of the first steps in creating an emergency response plan is to identify the most common risks specific to your community. Here in Chicago, we don’t have to worry about hurricanes, but we do have to be prepared for fires, accidents, threats and other natural disasters.
- Create an ERP committee: Establish a team responsible for emergency planning and response. This team could include board members, property managers and community volunteers.
- Develop your communication plan: In a disaster, communication is paramount. Make sure you establish a communication protocol that includes methods for alerting residents about emergencies. This may include sending texts or emails, utilizing social media, and making phone calls. Ensure you have accurate and up-to-date information for every resident.
- Update your emergency contact list: Speaking of contact information, be sure also to have a complete list of essential emergency contacts, including local authorities, utility companies, medical facilities and community volunteers.
- Create evacuation and shelter plans: Develop evacuation routes and assembly points. Ensure all residents are familiar with these routes. Also include nearby shelters, both public and private, where residents can go in case of evacuation.
- Stock an emergency supply kit: Be sure to always maintain an inventory of emergency supplies, such as first aid kits, water, non-perishable food, flashlights, batteries and blankets. Update and replenish these supplies regularly – and don’t forget to budget for them!
- Widely communicate ERP and conduct regular training/drills: An emergency response plan is only effective when everyone knows it exists. Organize training sessions and drills to familiarize residents about emergency procedures. If revisions need to be made to the process after hosting a drill, make the updates right away.
Disaster can breed chaos. You can bring some calm to the situation by having a thorough ERP in place for your HOA. For help in doing so, contact us at First Community Management. We offer full-service association management for condos and townhomes of all sizes throughout the greater Chicago area.