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The Elements of an Emergency Response Plan for Property Management

Updated: Jan 22

Planing for emergency response

Emergencies are unpredictable and their potential costs and risks can be staggering. As reported in Forbes, "Costs from major storms have continued to rise through the years, as an average of $144.9 billion in annual losses has been recorded over the previous three years, compared to an average of $93.6 billion in the 2010s, $58.7 billion in the 2000s, $31.4 billion in the 1990s and $20.5 billion in the 1980s.

To put it mildly, the financial and human toll of emergencies is immense. This underlines the importance of being prepared, particularly for property managers who bear a responsibility towards their tenants and properties.

Fire safety plan

Essential Components of an Emergency Response Plan

An emergency response plan is a blueprint for action during emergencies. It outlines the procedures and responsibilities to ensure safety and minimize damage. Every emergency response plan should be a little different because it should be tailored to your properties unique characteristics. A property manager in the Midwest, for example, should specifically prepare for the possibility of tornadoes whereas hurricane preparedness should be an emphasis for someone on the Gulf Coast.

That being said, any effective emergency response plan will include several key components:

  • Identifying potential emergencies for your area

  • Creating evacuation plans

  • Designating emergency response team members

  • Establishing communication protocols

  • Planning for business continuity

This emergency preparedness starter guide from OSHA provides additional insight.

Fire safety checklist

Implementing an Emergency Response Plan

Implementing an emergency response plan involves more than just drafting documents. It requires a thorough understanding of potential hazards, training of staff, regular updates, and drills.

As a property manager, it's not enough to have a plan. You need to feel confident that the plan will be followed in the event an emergency does occur.

If you have staff, are they sufficiently trained to act quickly in the right way? If you have tenants, do they have the knowledge they need to respond to an emergency appropriately?

check list with tenant

Educating Tenants on the Emergency Response Plan

Educating tenants about the emergency response plan is a crucial step for its successful implementation. There are a lot of ways to do this so the best approach depends on your specific situation.

It typically requires a mix of approaches, such as: regular meetings, distributing written plans, displaying emergency procedures visibly in common areas, and conducting practice drills.

Woman sitting at desk writing

The Role of Property Managers in Emergency Situations

In emergencies, property managers play a pivotal role. They are responsible for executing the emergency response plan, ensuring tenant safety, coordinating with emergency services, and managing the property's recovery process.

The U.S. Small Business Administration provides a helpful outline that details this role further and gives property managers some great checklists and tips.

Setting up a comprehensive emergency response plan is not just good practice. It's a necessity for property managers. It reduces the potential costs and risks associated with emergencies and ensures the safety and well-being of tenants. Effective emergency preparedness isn't about reacting to a disaster but proactively planning for one.

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