Emergency Preparedness And Your Strata Corporation
From time to time, it is important to be reminded of resources available to us in preparing for emergencies- natural disasters and the like. There are a number of excellent resources already freely available and we don’t seek to duplicate those (nor do we presume to speak as experts on this topic, though we are happy to connect you with experts in this field who can provide more specific advice for your Strata Corporation), but we will highlight some of the critical points to consider. Below you will find links to websites that will help you prepare for a disaster.
The first thing you can do for yourself and your family is to adequately prepare for a natural disaster. Most experts recommend keeping on hand supplies that will last you at least 72 hours. The Canadian Red Cross sells emergency preparedness kits directly through their website, Red Cross Shop as do several other retailers, including a local firm – 72 Hours Shop. You should ensure you have food and water to last 3 days as well – a minimum of 2 litres of water per person/ per day. Food should be a mixture of canned (protein, vegetables, fruit) and dry (protein, granola bars). Don’t forget a manual can opener.
You can also prepare yourself by taking the following steps:
– Know where the gas shutoff valves are for connected equipment in your suite and make sure those appliances are secured and connected with flexible metal. Fortis BC does not actually recommend that strata corporations shut off the gas to the building unless there has been a break in the line. In the event of an extended power outage, that could be the only source of heat/hot water and you could experience significant delays in reactivating the gas since this can only be done by a professional. See Fortis BC Earthquake Preparedness for more details on Fortis BC recommendations.
– Secure loose equipment and furniture to walls. This could include bookshelves, dressers, appliances, hot water tanks and heavy artwork or mirrors.
– Have a PLAN for yourself and your family. Know where to meet if you become separated. Have an out of area contact. Ensure your children’s school has adequate preparations and a plan to assist parents in reuniting with their kids. Keep cell phones charged or buy a charger that will work on solar or crank power.
Below are some links to help you prepare yourselves and your home.
City of Vancouver Earthquake Preparedness
City of Vancouver Emergency and Disaster Preparedness
BC Government Earthquake Preparedness
Vancouver School Board Emergency Preparedness
City of North Vancouver Emergency Preparedness
City of West Vancouver Emergency Preparedness
Essentially, you should be prepared to be on your own in the event of a serious natural calamity. While our emergency response line is open 24/7, the old adage “expect the unexpected” should be adhered to. In the event of a a significant catastrophe, it is unlikely that plumbers, electricians and other trades people will abandon their own families to assist. Likewise, phone networks could experience significant disruption and there might not be anyone available to take your call. This is why you should prepare for 72 hours on your own. We will make every reasonable effort to provide support and assistance for our clients to the extent that it is possible and realistic, but the literature on other significant natural disasters indicates that individuals are better off if they have prepared and are able to fend for themselves until external assistance is available.
Your strata corporation can have a role in this – some develop comprehensive Emergency Preparedness Plans and treat their strata corporation like a small community that endeavours to look after the collective group. The strata corporation can stock supplies, create a community plan, etc., but in the end you should be prepared to manage the crisis by yourself and with your family.
The insurance policies held by most strata corporations in the lower mainland have either a 10% or 15% deductible for earthquake damage and various other deductibles for damage caused by fire, flood, sewer back-up and water damage. It’s important to note that a 10% earthquake deductible is 10% of the total insured value for Property on the strata corporations insurance policy; not 10% of the damage caused by the earthquake.
For example, if a strata corporation is insured for $50,000,000 and their earthquake deductible is 10%, the strata corporations deductible amount would be $5,000,000 (10% of the insured value for property). Essentially, in this example the strata corporation is self insuring for the first $5,000,000 of damage.
Most (if not all) strata corporations do not have these types of reserves in their Contingency Reserve Fund or elsewhere; therefore in the event of a serious natural disaster the earthquake deductible of the strata corporation would need to be levied or assessed back to the strata lot owners based on unit entitlement.
We would recommend that you discuss the above personal exposures with your personal insurance representative to ensure that your personal insurance policy covers this sort of a levy/assessment. Also if you are required to vacate your home for any period of time, the strata corporation’s insurance policy generally provides no coverage for alternative accommodations. Your own personal insurance policy should provide additional living expense coverage that would pay any additional costs for providing food and shelter to you and your family while your strata lot is uninhabitable.
As always, you should be certain that your personal insurance policy covers Personal Contents, Additional Living Expenses, Betterments or Improvements to your strata lot, Deductibles Assessments and your Personal Liability. It’s also important to also ensure that your personal insurance policy insure against the perils of Earthquake and Sewer Back-up, there is usually an additional charge to insure against these perils on your personal policy, it’s not usually automatically included.
If you have any questions about how this works, contact your insurance representative or our offices and we can assist.
As noted above, this is not intended to be a comprehensive guide to planning on how to plan for and survive an earthquake or other natural disaster. There are many resources available to help you with this, and we have linked to some of them above. The most important points to take from this advisory are:
– Have a PLAN.
– Be prepared to be ON YOUR OWN.
– Make sure you HAVE ADEQUATE INSURANCE.
Please do not hesitate to contact your Property Manager or our offices if you have any questions or suggestions on the above.