Multifamily Maintenance Emergency Preparedness

Maintenance Emergency Preparedness

As a veteran property manager, you already know that maintenance emergencies do not work 9-5.  It can sometimes seem like most emergencies happen after hours!  Even if you do your best impression of “risk management extraordinaire” you know that urgent situations will still arise. Having a plan and being able to remain clam when dealing with maintenance emergency situations is key to being effective as a property manager.

Maintenance Emergency Tip #1: DEFINE the word “emergency”

Among staff and residents, you need to have a clear definition of the word emergency or urgent.  Different emergencies require different staff and plans.  Therefore, knowing what type of emergency you are walking into at 2 am is imperative.

Some items to include in your emergency awareness campaign would be:

FLOODING (pipes burst or blocked, appliances broken and leaking, water leaks, natural disaster flood, etc)

FIRE (from SO many sources obviously, FIRE is an emergency)

GAS LEAK (natural gas, propane or otherwise, a gas leak is ALWAYS an emergency that needs to be handled with care)

NATURAL DISASTER (tornado, hurricane, etc)

BREAKS (major systems such as heating or air conditioning)

PEST INVASION (mice, rats, major insects)

Maintenance Emergency Tip #2: Open the lines of communication.

In any emergency situation, you have to consider both sides of the equation.  Both staff and management as well as residents of the community will be at all time high stress levels.  This can add to the heightened senses of the actual emergency.  Your residents need to know that you are able to remain calm and collected.  This will require patience and understanding on your part as the property manager.  To alleviate stress, every resident should know HOW to contact you or your maintenance staff at all times.  Whether your community relies on an on-call system or after-hours call center, providing your residents with adequate access to you and your team can eliminate unnecessary calls to emergency services and add a level of confidence in management.

Maintenance Emergency Tip #4: Have a plan.

Plans for emergencies should be in multiple locations.  Written, digital, even on a magnet on your residents’ refrigerators.  The more ways that you reiterate emergency preparedness, the more prepared you, your staff and your residents will be!  Stay tuned to the Leonardo247 for another upcoming article on how to construct an AWESOME emergency plan!

Maintenance Emergency Tip #5: Properly Address emergencies.

Its better to be proactive, than reactive.  Voluntary checks by maintenance and management can percent larger scale issues.  If you take time to ask your residents “Is everything okay in your unit?” they will often let you know if there are small issues.  It also grows a sense of confidence in your community and trust in you as the PM.

If you cannot head off an emergency with preventative checks, the first step is to respond quickly to any emergency.  As inconvenient as it may be, emergencies should be attended to swiftly to avoid them being made worse.

Having adequate documentation of nightly checks and preventative maintenance will help you to establish a timeline of how and when the event first occurred.

Maintenance Emergency Tip #6: Be Prepared.

Being prepared for emergencies means not only have a plan, but having the materials, tools and resources needed to handle emergencies.

Have an onsite location to store emergency response equipment which includes:

  • First Aid
  • Extra water and food
  • Blankets / Had Warmers (if living in a colder climate)
  • Flashlights/ batteries
  • Cell phone / radios / walkie-talkies
  • Spare Keys
  • Emergency generators/ fuel if necessary
  • Toolkit for repairs
  • Laminated emergency response documents
  • Contact information for emergency contractors

Maintenance Emergency Tip #6: Be Proactive instead of Reactive.

Staying current on technology upgrades in property maintenance can help you stay on top of your preventative maintenance program.  Prevention is better than treatment.  It is true in medicine and in property management.  Many times, the only interaction a resident will have with a property manager is a negative one.  Whether it is a small complaint or an emergency, a resident can form their entire opinion of a community from a small handful instances.

Invest in infrastructure improvements.  If a resident complains, take their complaint seriously and involved other residents near them.  Complete all repairs necessary and do not delay “small” issues as they lead to bigger ones.  Organize your preventative action cycles into daily work to ensure that each task is being completed on time.

While we hope that you will never need to use your emergency plan, having it, is one of the best insurances you can have for your community.  In the event that you DO need it, the property manager will need to be the captain of the ship, and your plan will be your guide to sailing through the storm.  For more other great risk management tools, at your fingertips, be sure to get your free Leonardo247 demo today!

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