Preparing for the Worst Customizing Your Building's Emergency Plan

Aniello DeGuida is the resident manager of The Cocoa Exchange condo building in Manhattan's Financial District just a stone’s throw from Ground Zero, so he’s very aware of the importance of having an emergency plan in place for his residents. According to DeGuida however, it doesn’t matter what the emergency is—fire, electrical outage, blackout, or terrorism—he’s as ready as he can be. “You have to have a plan in place for everything,” he says. “Without a plan, people panic, and that can make things worse.”

The most common emergencies are blackouts, severe weather, gas leaks, sickness, and fire, but you should plan for anything—even the pandemic flu. Believe it or not, planning for a natural disaster such as a hurricane is actually a little easier because most such events provide at least a little warning. But you should also plan for less predictable emergencies as well, such as floods or sewer backups that might occur in a basement, to name one very common (and unpleasant) example.

Nobody wants to think about any of these emergency situations and their aftermath, but it’s better to talk about it and know what you’re going to do before a tragedy strikes that could have been prevented. “The most important part of any plan is communication,” says Joshua Salon of The Salon Realty Corporation in Manhattan. “You have to have something in place so everyone knows what they are supposed to do and who they are supposed to call. This doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as having a list at the desk.”

Tailored Emergency Plans

Although an emergency can strike any building at any time, the reality is that an emergency plan is a not a one-size fits all solution. The Salon Realty manages more than 50 buildings, from five units to hundreds. “While some of the buildings can get a standard emergency plan, it really should be tailored to each building and its size and needs to be specific,” Salon says.

The good news, say the experts, is that a simple straightforward, bulleted plan may be more than enough in most cases. This type of “all-hazard” planning is the most efficient solution for dealing with disaster, according to officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).


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  • Finally an article that addresses preparedness. Very good ideas and suggestions that all buildings should consider. One challenge always is education of building staff and all the residents, particularly in larger buildings. The key to preparedness is practice, practice, practice so organizing drills and exercises will help everyone to evacuate or shelter in place safely and protect the building infrastructure and personal belongings. I would also suggest putting personal emergency preparedness planning on board and shareholders meeting agendas and post flyers and website links. Personal Prepardness First !!!!
  • Great comments Karen!
  • It is a great article especially after the recent Hurrican . Prepare for the unexpected, set a plan for your building, identify and know your surrounding , tenants back grounds, their language , any residents with special needs... etc. Try to select a team from each floor, provide duties and connections and to who should report. To respond successfully to an emergency, it is an organized cooperated team. Thank you