Image of  an emergency exit sign in an apartment building's hallway.

Emergency Action Plan for Tenants

Updated March 4, 2024 . AmFam Team

Your rental property is one of the biggest investments you’ll make, and protecting your tenants is just as important as protecting your property. Having a functioning emergency action plan for tenants in place — before you need it — is key to keeping your tenants safe. With so much at stake, take a look at how creating an EAP for tenants can help reduce damage and personal injury.

Train Your Employees and Tenants on CPR and First Aid

In order for employees to become knowledgeable on how to handle emergencies, training should be divided into classroom learning and later put into practice with mock events that test their new abilities. Training in CPR and first aid are good examples of important skills to have. Afterwards, employees will have greater confidence when managing emergencies.

Schedule Drills and Mock Emergency Events

Practicing how to respond in the event of an emergency is the only way employees will know what to do. Bring your emergency procedures to life by performing physical drills. Schedule fire drills and walk through other scenarios annually so tenants and workers will be familiar with the routines.

Build Your Plan Based on Your Locality

Regionally dependent planning will allow you to focus on issues that occur in your area. Wildfires, earthquakes, hurricanes and tornadoes are all examples of disasters that impact specific areas. Focus your emergency action plans based on events likely to happen nearby.

Have an Emergency Preparedness Plan for Multiple Scenarios

After training your staff on responding to individual events, move into a response plan where multiple emergencies are occurring simultaneously. It’s here where delegation of duties will pay off. Assign a point person who’ll make critical decisions and communicate to all parties what’s to be done and when.

Some natural disasters spawn multiple emergencies, and it’s important that you’re prepared to carefully navigate through these issues. Consider a tornado and the aftermath, for instance. Initially, tenants will need to seek shelter. In the aftermath, injuries may require first aid. What if a gas main breaks and the building has to be evacuated? How do you manage getting the injured to safety while attending to the rest of the tenants, dealing with debris in dark hallways? These are scenarios that follow a logical progression and help your team to better prepare for the unexpected.

Review Monitoring and Alarm Systems with Contractors

Invite the contractors who’ve installed sprinkler systems, smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and safety alarm systems on site to educate your staff on how to test, maintain and reset these devices. While they’re on hand, be sure they inspect and repair or replace faulty equipment. Fire extinguishers should also be inspected, charged and in proper working order.

Leverage Internet of Things (IoT) Tech for Monitoring Status and Notification

Consider upgrading outdated alarms and video cameras with state-of-the-art IoT-enabled technologies that can deliver real-time details on an emergency system’s status directly to your smart phone. When a smoke alarm goes off in an apartment, a message about the event will be broadcast to all recipients. This way, your whole staff will be aware of the situation, and they can take action and respond to it together as a team.

Clearly Post and Identify Evacuation Routes

Place evacuation routes in rentals and common area hallways according to state and local codes. Another great idea is to post a list of emergency contacts next to these plans so your staff can be promptly alerted to issues and your tenants will know who to contact. In the event of a power outage, be sure that emergency lighting systems illuminate dark interior hallways and exit sign batteries are charged and functioning.

Create a Social Media Emergency Response Page

Select a social media platform for communication when emergencies are underway. It’s best to enroll recipients during business hours and verify that all employees, tenants, contractors and other parties are able to access, receive and send messages. Occasionally send a test note to everyone in the group and request that they reply in order to verify connectivity.

Designate a Special Needs Assistant

Building owners should check in with those tenants who are disabled, unable to move themselves to safety or otherwise in need of extra help, should an emergency response situation arise. Assign an employee or two to each individual requiring extra help to coordinate their evacuation from the premises and also help ensure safety precautions are active within their dwelling. Here are a few items the special assistant should know:

  • The floor and building layout
  • The emergency exits on all floors
  • The location of emergency-related equipment like fire extinguishers, automated external defibrillators (AED)
  • The location of the designated meeting area/safe refuge regrouping spot
  • Who and where all persons requiring assistance live, delivering updates to the property manager as necessary

Get Tenants to Train and Participate in EAPs with Incentives

Simple rewards can go a long way when it comes to recruiting and educating your tenants. Encourage them to take part in your building’s training exercises by providing refreshments. Some larger apartment buildings have a monthly lunch-and-learn training sessions, where a speaker reviews safety protocols on emergency preparedness and tenants enjoy a catered buffet.

Even calling together tenants to watch a series of training videos can be very useful. Help to ensure safety measures are clearly understood by sliding fliers with safety tips and evacuation route details under tenant doors — ask them to sign, date and return a copy to your office. Keep these documents with your tenant records and reward those that consistently respond and return these fliers.

Insure Carefully

If you’re concerned about the idea of worrying your tenants by training for a disaster, think about the alternative. With no EAP education in place, tenants may not know where to go or what to do. But because you made their safety a priority, they’ll be better able to take care of themselves when the unexpected happens. To better protect your investments and your tenants, get in touch with your American Family Insurance agent and look into the many ways our landlord insurance can help you to insulate your finances give you a little more peace of mind, too.

This article is for informational purposes only and includes information widely available through different sources.

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