Prevention and Preparedness: How does your community deal with emergencies?
September is National Preparedness Month. For the past few years, we have devoted a September post to reminders of preventative steps that can help keep your community safe and prepared for emergencies. By implementing preventative measures now, your association may reduce injury and liability later. The following focus areas may assist your association in identifying how prepared it is for the next emergency:
Review governing documents and insurance policies. Ensure that insurance coverage and reserve funds meet the association’s needs as well as the requirements set forth in the declaration and state statutes. An insurance and maintenance chart and insurance guidelines prepared by the association’s attorney, in consultation with the insurance agent, can serve as one way of notifying owners of their responsibilities. We also recommend that associations check their fidelity coverage and purchase crime coverage to protect against fraud and embezzlement.
Assess repair and maintenance schedules. Devise a long-term plan for maintaining all common elements, including water lines, sewer pipes, water heaters, and roofs, where applicable. Community reserve specialists can help assess long-term obligations and the funding necessary to fulfill association maintenance and replacement responsibilities. If your association has not adopted a reserve funding policy, the board should do so. A funding policy that guides the budget process can protect against financial instability and the need for special assessments.
Utilize community safety experts. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation and your local law enforcement officers can provide information about crime prevention, including educational materials on topics ranging from sexual assault to trick-or-treating for adults and children. Invite a neighborhood police officer to attend a meeting and present safety tips to owners.
Encourage members to prepare themselves for emergencies. Devote a newsletter article to safety issues and emergency contact information specific to your community. For condominium communities especially, checking smoke alarm batteries, removing grills and propane tanks from balconies, and other fire safety tips can help protect multiple households.
Communicate plans for the future. Foster continuity of operations through clear communications with owners before emergencies arise and prior to board transitions. To prevent costly missteps, make sure that board members know how your association functions and provide annual education to owners, as required by state law. Our Legal Audit (Part 1 and Part 2) can help bring awareness to issues that your association should address.
Please contact one of our attorneys at (303) 863-1870 if you have any questions or if you would like our assistance with preventative policies for your association.