The weather in most places this year has been reasonably mild for December. However, it’s always a good idea to prepare for the time ahead as the temperatures continue to drop. To err on the side of caution, HOA boards should be prepared with the best ways to protect building operations and residents. Here are some tips for keeping everyone safe and avoiding seasonal emergencies this winter.
1. Check Your Walkways
Some of the most common types of winter injuries come from trips, falls, and slips on icy or wet surfaces. Patrol your community’s perimeter looking for any hazardous routes that could need attention. Apply salt to icy walkways, and have security keep watch for any potential areas that could be missed or become a hazard. If there’s a chance of your community getting lots of snow, have a plan for proper snow or ice removal.
2. Watch for Cold Rooms
Include routine security checks in your HOA emergency management program. Your security officer can be tasked with checking for rooms that could become unusually cold without monitoring, such as mechanical or electrical rooms, sprinkler rooms, fuel storage rooms, generator rooms, and parking garages. If you work with a property management company, let your manager know about the unusually low temperature. Otherwise, note it for yourself and continue monitoring in case you need to take action. Dropping temperatures can mean a risk of false alarms going off, frozen pipes, or HVAC issues. Being diligent about checking these possible hazards up front will help you prevent or prepare for temperature-related complaints from residents.
3. Keep Residents Informed
Make sure those in the community understand the risks involved during the winter months and how to respond in case of an emergency. For example, they will need to know their options for evacuation and safety in the event of a fire. It’s best to hold information sessions for your HOA going over the details. Send out email reminders, and maybe even give residents the instructions in print format, in case they don’t or aren’t able to attend the sessions. Make sure they understand their building’s approved fire safety plan.
And to ensure this information is readily available, it’s a good idea to schedule these sessions at least once a year, not just during the winter time.
These steps can greatly assist in keeping your HOA and residents safe and prepared for any potential hazards this holiday season. No one wants to have their family and celebration time interrupted by an unwelcome safety risk, so it’s best to keep everyone informed and safe.