This time of the year is filled with joy and cheer. It’s also filled with criminals planning to steal valuables and gifts. This is not an ordinary holiday season. It’s the first one in 100 years to occur during a pandemic.
Because of this, more people are staying home and ordering online. To protect themselves, they skip the trip to the store. Criminals know they have a better chance of scoring packages this time of the year than any other time of the year.
Data after data reveal that package theft rises in December. Tack on COVID-19 and the numbers will climb higher. Additionally, various police departments have issued news releases warning of a heightened risk of theft during this holiday season. Most of the releases say the pandemic will make things worse with more people shopping online from home.
Apartment property management can take steps to protect its residents. After all, this should be a jolly time of the year. It’s much needed with the kind of year it has been for everyone. When you do these three things to protect your residents, they will notice and appreciate it.
1. Create Safety Guidelines
Before educating residents, document and publish guidelines. These recommendations will help them know what they can do to protect themselves and their neighbors.
To avoid sounding like Scrooge, let residents know apartment property management appreciates everyone creating a warm and festive setting. Then, delve into the importance of following these guidelines to keep everyone safe.
Explain what to do in an emergency
This is one of those things every building should have. If you have an emergency plan, include it in the guidelines and post them everywhere. Anyone who looks at the plan should know exactly where to go in case of an emergency. The plan needs to list apartment property manager’s contact information as well as who to contact if it’s after-hours.
List maximum occupancy rates
Determine the maximum occupancy limits for all the areas in the building. Once you nail down the numbers, spell out the maximum occupancy in the guidelines. You may want to outline two occupancy rates. One for emergencies like the pandemic when the numbers need to be lower, and one for non-emergencies.
Prepare for extreme weather
No one wants the pipes to burst. That can certainly happen in the cold weather months. Residents need to know what steps to take to minimize the chances of pipes freezing. Give them a checklist of things to do before leaving town.
If sidewalks, driveways, or any space is the resident’s responsibility, mention it so they know they need to clear ice, snow, and any safety hazards. You can also further protect your apartment with these winter security tips.
Provide holiday decoration recommendations
Another item to include in the guidelines are holiday decorations guidelines. If too many residents go overboard with their decorations, it can cause power outages or fire. To prevent this from happening, it’s important to check the cords for potential fraying.
Cover safety for lit candles, outlets, trees, and holiday lights. Use plain language to explain things that will break the fire code. Encourage residents to turn off everything and extinguish any flames before going to bed.
Post kitchen safety tips
With more people staying home, there is a chance that someone who is new to cooking or holiday cooking could start a fire. Unfortunately, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas are the peak days for home cooking fires.
Here are the kitchen safety tips to address. Advise residents to start by testing the smoke alarms to verify they function properly. Explain the importance of remaining in the kitchen and keeping watch over the food. This is especially true when cooking a turkey. Most importantly, never leave home while anything is cooking.
Check the stovetop space to ensure it’s free of utensils and things like oven mitts. They can catch fire if they are too close to the burner. Hold off on the wine until after the cooking is done. Verify all your appliances work and don’t have worn cords.
Keep children at least three feet away from the hot stove as cooking items can splatter and burn. Ensure they don’t have easy access to sharp knives and cords for appliances. Finally, keep the floor clean to make sure no one trips or slips especially when carrying hot and breakable items.
Prevent mail and package theft
The guidelines for mail and package delivery depend on how your apartment building is set up. Are packages dropped off on resident’s doorsteps? Are they left with the front desk? Is there an office where packages can be locked up? The key thing is for mail and packages to be picked up as soon as possible.
Suggest signing up for shipping notifications. These keep purchasers informed on the location of their packages. Many businesses have tools that will notify customers as soon as a package has been delivered. Some companies offer lockers for packages like Amazon Hub Locker. It’s safer than packages being left out in the open.
Remind them to lock up
It should go without saying that residents should always lock their cars and residences. This should be the case even if they’re going next door or picking up something from a different floor than where they live. Not only should their vehicles be locked, but also empty. Criminals look for smash and grab opportunities while passing on empty vehicles.
2. Educate Residents
Once the guidelines are set, educate the residents. Use all your forms of communication to guarantee everyone sees these guidelines. You can do this through an email newsletter, printed newsletter, online community, and text messaging. Some people may be tempted not to read the entire guideline. That said, it is a good idea to have a video call to go over them with residents. Publish the recording for easy access.
Let them know that the apartment management team would appreciate knowing if anyone plans to be gone for more than a day or two. This allows the team to keep an eye on resident’s packages, doorway, and problems such a broken pipe. Besides, some states require renters to alert their landlord of travel plans.
When they return, they need to check with the office for guidelines to return safely. Explain the purpose of the guidelines is to protect everyone on the property from potential exposure to COVID-19. It is not meant to out anyone.
Ask residents to report anything suspicious. Give them a way to contact apartment property staff anonymously. Allowing them to remain anonymous takes away the fear of retribution.
3. Implement Remote Video Surveillance
Every apartment property is different. One thing they all have in common is that the apartment property management team is responsible for ensuring the property is safe for everyone.
Do you have an apartment security system or video surveillance? How old are the security systems? Do they still work? Video surveillance has gotten cheaper and more effective. You’re no longer limited to useless grainy video. The right video surveillance system can make out identifying information from faces to license plates.
Video cameras add another layer of security and safety year-round, not just during the holiday season. They can avert crime and help prevent damage.
The right video surveillance system matters. Catching things early and improving the chances of determining who is involved requires investing in high-resolution cameras. Then combine that with live video monitoring, a proactive solution that uses advanced video analytics and human intelligence. This artificial intelligence capability can automatically detect suspicious activities without human intervention.
Here’s how it works: the video surveillance company programs specific events, such as a person wandering around the parking lot or approaching the property. When the camera senses either of these scenarios, it notifies a monitoring operator who checks out the activity and responds as needed.
A video surveillance system can include an audio speaker function. This allows the person watching the cameras to warn the suspects without actually being on the property. Often, this sends the trespassers scurrying away. If they don’t leave, then the operator can call law enforcement and keep them informed of the suspects’ movements.
The brilliant thing about video surveillance is that it does more than deter crime. It can monitor for safety hazards, flooding, and other problems. On occasion, an incident happens that isn’t caught until later. You can have security consultants search and analyze hours of video to locate the incident and present the evidence.
Video surveillance cameras put eyes across the entire apartment property. It can catch things people don’t see or notice.
The Importance of Communicating Holiday Safety Tips to Residents
It may take a bit of work to verify everyone has received the guidelines and understood them, but it’s worth it. If something happens in any part of the apartment building, it affects multiple people. That’s why it’s critical to create safety guidelines and educate residents.
Sharing these holiday safety tips ensures everyone has a wonderful season. The nice thing is that these holiday safety tips work year-round.
Knowing you care about them and their safety may compel residents to renew their leases. There’s no greater gift to an apartment property management team than happy residents who stay for a long time and reduce the costs associated with apartment turnover.