Habitat spoke recently with Meryl Sacks, president of Sacks Real Estate Management.
Emergencies come in all shapes and sizes, and preparing for them seems daunting.
It’s a big deal. The goal of emergency preparedness is to get a building back up and running as quickly as possible, to minimize any damage to the building, and ensure the safety and security of all the residents and building staff.
Do different kinds of emergencies call for different preparations?
There are numerous emergencies – flood, fire, a power outage, a terrorist attack. There is a standard that I use in my firm to prepare building staffs. There’s a list of supplies that are kept on hand at the building, including cases of water, glow sticks, lanterns, flashlights, batteries, a radio. We actually have Mylar blankets.
What about knowing who's in the building?
That's what I call the administrative part of it, and it's essential to have a list of the elderly people, pets, and children who live in the building. That should be at the front desk because we may have to knock on doors.
If you get an advance warning, like a storm warning, what should the staff do?
Again, there's a list of items that the building staff needs to prepare. In the event of a storm warning, we want to make sure that all the drains in the building are clear, whether it’s on the roof, the terraces, or the basement, so that there's no backup within the building. If there's going to be high winds, any furniture that's kept on the roof, terraces, or outside the building is either brought in or secured. In the event you have a construction project going on and you have a sidewalk bridge, you need to contact your contractor who's doing the work and make sure that items are secured. Or actually remove them.
What about preparing residents?
After Hurricane Sandy, we worked on preparing go-bags for residents. It includes a list of items that they need in the event they have to vacate their apartment quickly, such as important documents, passport, driver's license, prescription drugs or other medical items. Also we encourage families to have a place to go, a meeting place in the event people throughout the city are dislocated. We have distributed the bags to a couple of the buildings we manage. I’m a big proponent of emergency preparedness.
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