It sometimes pays to think pessimistically when conducting a risk assessment of your properties. Is your property at risk of being damaged by a natural disaster? If so, creating a comprehensive disaster preparedness plan presents itself as a smart investment for your property. A plan will ultimately help save money and lives if the unthinkable ever happened. While the ultimate hope is that you will never need to use a preparedness plan, you will never regret taking the time to create and implement one if your property experiences a disaster.
Disaster Preparedness Steps that Will Save You Money
- Create a disaster preparedness plan. In this plan, include the types of disasters that are most likely to occur in your area. Determine what parts of a property post the most risk in the event of a disaster and take action to mitigate those risks. Then outline how your company will respond to each type of incident.
- Plan for a disaster before construction begins. When planning the construction of a new property, whether it’s residential or commercial, consider the disasters for which the area and building is most at risk. Examples of disasters include fires, floods, earthquakes, landslides or tornadoes. You may find that the upfront extra cost of safety features is less expensive than the cost of remediating standard building materials.
- Prepare your property. In addition to taking basic safety precautions, take steps to prepare a property before you learn about the threat of a disaster. For example, install storm shutters if the property is in an area that experiences strong winds or storms, or ensure that the property’s landscaping helps direct water away from buildings.
- Have the right types of insurance policies. Review your insurance policies every year with your insurance agent to make sure the information on it is correct and up to date so you have sufficient coverage in the event of a disaster. Use the disaster preparedness plan to learn if the policy covers damage created by perils such as wind, flooding, fires, smoke damage, power losses or earthquakes. Some insurance companies will reimburse clients if they have a preparedness plan in place.
- Train the staff. Make the employees aware of the company’s disaster preparedness plan—including evacuation routes and a list of important phone numbers—and make copies readily available for them to review. Then provide workers with written duties to perform in response to different disasters and periodically run drills. This training will help your company protect as many assets as possible and keep tenants safe.
- Include a plan to recover. Include business continuity steps in a disaster preparedness plan. Outline, what to do if part of a building is unsafe for tenants, how to help tenants secure their property after a disaster, and where to resume operations if staff cannot reenter the office. The sooner you resume operations and get tenants back into the building, the happier your tenants will be.
- Know what contractors to call before a disaster. List the construction contractors the company intends to call in the disaster preparedness plan. In addition to construction contractors, list the number for a clean-up specialist, electrician, plumber, document recovery specialist, water damage and mold remediation consultants, landscapers and tree removal experts.
- Make reciprocal agreements with other property management companies. If you only have one property in the area, talk with other property management companies to learn if you can provide each other with mutually agreeable services. For example, if one property experiences damage that displaces tenants, the tenants can use the partner’s property if a unit is available. This type of arrangement can help your company keep its tenants after a disaster and minimize business losses.
- Keep tenants in the loop. Make tenants aware of how the property management company plans to respond to different types of disasters. Give them a list of pertinent phone numbers and information about how they can create their own disaster plans. When your tenants know how to prepare for a disaster, the safer they and the buildings will be, thereby helping reduce recovery costs.
- Document the pre-disaster conditions. Use a photo or video camera to document the property and the company’s assets. Include the exterior and interior of the building, company vehicles, office supplies, electronic equipment, signs, furniture and other items that are essential to operations. Make sure the video or photos have the date on them, as well as the name of the person who shot the images. This video will help prove any losses the property experiences during a disaster so you can obtain the maximum settlement amount from the insurance company.
In an April 2013 post on the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies website, disaster management coordinator Alberto Monguzzi states, “We estimate that for each dollar spent on disaster preparedness, an average of four dollars is saved on disaster response and recovery.” No business or area of the U.S. is immune to disasters, and disasters often occur with little to no warning. By taking the time to prepare, you make an important, money-saving investment in your business and the safety of your tenants. If you would like help building an effective disaster preparedness plan for your property, contact Polygon today.
Photo by David via CC license