The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) Intl. has released a list of 10 proactive steps property professionals can take to ensure the safety of their tenants, staff, and buildings in an emergency or natural disaster as part of September’s National Preparedness Month.
“Preparedness is essential for property professionals as they strive to protect tenants, buildings, and business operations against a variety of threats,” says James A. Peck, chief elected officer and chair of BOMA Intl. and senior director of asset services at CB Richard Ellis. “A well thought out, regularly reviewed and practiced emergency preparedness plan is the best defense we have against any emergencies.”
And, with hurricane season in full swing and experts predicting an increase in H1N1 virus cases, now is the time to review your emergency preparedness plans. According to BOMA, an effective preparedness plan includes an emergency response plan, a communication strategy, and a blueprint for business continuity. Here is the list of 10 steps BOMA recommends for ensuring tenant, staff, and building safety in an emergency:
- Review your plan. Regularly go over your building’s emergency preparedness plan with your team to ensure everyone is familiar with all aspects of emergency protocol.
- Practice makes perfect. Have your emergency preparedness team take part in tabletop exercises, in which team members walk through various emergency scenarios and propose responses to “what if” questions.
- Involve your tenants. Make certain all of your tenants are aware of the building evacuation procedures and encourage them to participate in evacuation drills.
- Communicate. Develop a multi-layered crisis communication plan that is fast and effective in reaching tenants, local authorities and agencies, and the media.
- Stay alert. Sign up for daily alerts to monitor weather conditions and cases of pandemic influenza in your area.
- Work with authorities. Review local evacuation procedures and identify the agency that will issue evacuation orders.
- Cross-train staff. Identify and provide cross-training essential personnel to provide critical services.
- Revisit HR policies. Determine how your company’s leave and salary policies will apply in emergency situations, such as a pandemic flu outbreak, what a significant portion of your workforce may be unable to come to work.
- Operate remotely. Consider identifying off-site work facilities or telecommuting capabilities to ensure business continuity in the event of a disaster.
- Find the latest resources. For the latest information and resources on H1N1, visit BOMA’s Pandemic Flu Resources site at www.boma.org/Resources/SafetyAndEmergencyPlanning/fluresources. These publications, from the BOMA bookstore, may also be helpful: The Property Professional’s Guide to Emergency Preparedness; Are Your Tenants Safe? BOMA’s Guide to Security and Emergency Planning; Pandemic Influenza: Are You Prepared?; and When Disaster Strikes, What Really Matters?