Community Risk Mitigation Management During the Holidays
Whether the holiday season is here or it's just a busy time full of activity, we can become overwhelmed, overtired and easily distracted, reducing our awareness of potential hazards from theft, injury or accidents. Did you know that dry trees, electrical lights, and nearby heat sources like fireplaces, radiators, wood stoves or candles are the leading causes of Christmas tree fires? Tree fires can fill a room with heavy, black smoke in under 30 seconds, making it nearly impossible for occupants to see, breathe or escape. Here are some community risk mitigation tips that can alleviate risk during the busy holiday season.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, over 200 fires per year involve Christmas trees, causing over $15 million of property damage. Sadly, one out of every 34 Christmas tree fires result in death. So for those who celebrate Christmas, some of you may opt for a real evergreen tree to decorate. The risk with a real tree is preventing it from drying out. Please remember to fill the base with water every six to eight hours and, after that, once daily. Dispose of trees before they dry out and do not store dry trees inside a home, common area or garage. Some vendors can dispose of and recycle trees for free, so it’s worth your while to check with your landscaping vendor to see if they offer tree removal services.
Pets and Children
Another risk over the holidays is pets and children. Whether you or your fellow residents have a real tree or an artificial one, you run the risk of pets and children knocking off those shiny ornaments because there’s something so wonderfully attractive about those glistening decorations that make pets and children want to touch them. Some pets are tall enough to stand near the tree and knock ornaments right off the branches and some like to play with anything shiny. Then you have children, especially toddlers; you know they love shiny ornaments. They also love to share them with the cat or dog when they realize that they will play with them too. To manage the risk, measure 18-24 inches from the ground (depending on height of the pet and/or child), move good ornaments high and use plastic or nothing at all on the bottom.
When it comes to decorating, check your light strings for worn or broken cords or bulbs before placing them on the tree. Also, make sure the tree lights are off at night before closing common areas. If your tree is outside, make sure you use outdoor lights and cords made for outdoor use. Keep them covered with rubber mats or an outdoor covering to prevent tripping hazards in common areas. Keep outdoor mats and rugs snow and ice-free so your residents don’t slip and fall.
Security risks increase exponentially during the holiday season as well. Many residents travel over the holidays, move to warmer climates or have an influx of guests and family members in and out. These factors make it easy for intruders to make it into the building or common areas, especially if there are no procedures to track visitors and deliveries.
Here are some community risk mitigation tips to improve security in your building this holiday season:
- Report any malfunctions for locks on any exterior doors to the community manager immediately. Building security and mitigating potential losses are extremely important and considered an emergency. Don’t hesitate to call management after-hours if building security is compromised. If it is a matter that involves police intervention, contact 911 first.
- Common areas of your building are safer when they are well attended to. The areas should be well lit, clean, and secure to deter criminals.
- Any windows accessible from the ground level should have adequate locking mechanisms and possibly metal bars depending on the area.
- If your home is vacant for an extended period, notify management, so they know of the time frame your unit will be vacant. You should encourage other residents to do the same.
- For vehicles that are left in the parking lot for extended periods, leave keys with management, a neighbor, or a family member so they can move your car if parking lots need to be plowed or moved during an emergency.
- When entering or exiting the building, make sure the door closes firmly behind you and that you’re not allowing strangers to enter behind you. This is especially important for automatic doors. Be sure to wait to make sure it closes securely.
- If you see something suspicious, don’t shrug it off. Let building security or your community manager know as soon as possible.
- If your community has concierge services, they should store packages in a locked, secure location. The holiday season brings in an abundance of packages and having procedures for check-ins and check-outs of each package will help deter losses. At FirstService Residential properties with concierge services, we make sure to log each package into FirstService Residential Connect™ and track all package movements and who checked the package in and out.
Frozen Pipe Prevention
As mentioned, some residents will be traveling for the holidays or temporarily relocating to warmer climates. Frozen pipes are another risk worth mentioning. Residents traveling should be reminded that as colder weather approaches, Consumer Reports1 suggests the temperature should be set no lower than 55° F and kept on while out. Residents may want to keep cabinet doors open to help circulate some of the warmer air. If someone checks on those units, they may want to turn the water on periodically to keep warm water circulating through the pipes since they aren’t currently being used.
The only way to maintain a safe community is for all residents to participate and be involved. Reminders and communications assist all parties in working together for the common goal of supporting a healthy community. Be the Difference in your community by keeping it safe during the holiday season.
Seasons Greetings from FirstService Residential!
References: Farrell, M. (2021, September 30). How to prevent your pipes from freezing. Consumer
Reports. Retrieved November 10, 2021, from http://www.consumerreports.org/home-