Understand the Definition of an Emergency
First, it’s critical to understand what an emergency actually is. People can have different ideas about what constitutes an emergency, and there are several different types that you need to be prepared to encounter.
An emergency is anything that could cause harm or damage the home’s interior or exterior.
Obviously, some of the emergencies included in this definition would be water damage like a flood, or a fire, or an earthquake. Those categories can cause harm and damage, and are easily classified as emergencies. A light bulb that needs to be replaced or a towel rack falling off a wall are not emergencies. Those are easy repairs that do not require an immediate response.
Make sure you’re talking to your landlord about how to define an emergency. It should be in your lease agreement, along with the procedures that you’ll need to follow to report and respond to an emergency.
First Steps in Responding to Emergencies
Depending on the emergency, you will perhaps need to reach out to authorities first, instead of your landlord or property manager. For example, if there’s a fire, you’ll want to call 9-1-1 or the fire department. Get out of the house and call for help.
Find out what kind of resources have been provided by your landlord. Perhaps there’s a tutorial on how to stop a leak, for example. Maybe you have a video or a document from your move-in orientation that will help you make an initial response to the emergency. It obviously depends on what’s happening. But, you want to make sure you’re knowledgeable and aware of who to reach out to in each situation.
If you’re a resident in a multi-family property, it’s important that you know how to exit your unit and your building. Make sure you’re aware of where to find your fire extinguishers and how to work them. Your smoke detectors should be visible, functioning, and up to date. These are all pre-emptive things that will help you during the actual emergency. You don’t want to be looking all over the place for a fire extinguisher during an actual fire in your kitchen. Do these reviews of emergency plans on a periodic basis so you can be sure your safety and security is intact.
Make a List of Emergency Contacts
You want to know who to contact and how. Stay up to date with all the local and statewide authorities. As this global pandemic has demonstrated, it’s a good idea to know how to reach the local CDC and the nearest hospitals. You want to know where all of your medical resources are and how to get in touch with the Poison Control office. Get an idea of which state and local authorities will be giving out the most reliable information. There are a lot of potential emergencies to prepare for.
It’s also important to remember that your documentation needs to be protected. You may need access to your driver’s license, passport, social security card, and renter’s insurance policy information. You want to make sure this documentation is accessible. If you have everything in a physical file, that’s great. But, what if you can’t get into your home during an emergency? Keep electronic records that match everything in the cloud or a digital space. You probably don’t think about your bank account information very often, but you might need it to start some conversations and get yourself some help during an emergency.
Southern California doesn’t have snowstorms or hurricanes, but we do have earthquakes. We sometimes have fires, especially if you’re living near a lot of brush or trees. Earthquakes are the biggest threat for us when it comes to natural disaster emergencies, however, and we never know when they will come. This makes preparation even more essential.
Know who to call and what to do. Be proactive and communicate. Communicate with your landlord or owner, and communicate with other residents. Make sure you over-communicate to keep everyone safe. No one knows what you’re thinking. Let people know what you’re doing and what you’re worried about.
Emergencies are easier to deal with when you’re working with a great landlord or a great Southern California property management company. We can help you prepare for the unexpected, so contact us at Mynd Property Management.