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It should be no surprise for multifamily apartment operators that emergencies happen. Our team has spent enough time on multifamily properties to hear numerous stories of how the property teams (office, leasing, and maintenance staff) were the first to respond to an emergency, even saving a life in one scenario. As I write this, a historical weather event is approaching the U.S. East Coast, which could have dire consequences for all of those in its path, including those multifamily operators that don't have emergency preparedness plans and tools in place.
Here are 5 apps your teams need to have on their smartphones when dealing with emergency or extreme weather conditions:
This app remains mostly functional without an internet connection, which can be very common during power outages caused by major storms. Please make sure to download this one before WiFi and cellular tower connections are lost:
1. First Aid (American Red Cross) App
If there was one app that every smartphone user should have, it is this one. The First Aid app from the American Red Cross contains easy to follow step-by-step advice for things like treating wounds to unresponsiveness.
- Simple step-by-step instruction/advice
- Fully integrated with 9-1-1 so you can call EMS
- Safety tips for everything including severe weather
- Preloaded content so that you don't need internet
- Supports Spanish language
Find the First Aid app here:
Note: in addition to the First Aid app on your team's phones, it is advisable to also inventory your first aid supply boxes throughout your properties. Extra bandages, medical tape, and survival blankets are easy to store in your property management offices, if you should ever need them.
These (3) apps must have an internet connection, either using Wi-Fi or Cellular:
2. FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Association) App
The FEMA app has been developed by the Federal Government specifically for emergency and severe weather events.
There are (3) key areas that the app addresses:
- Stay Informed
- Stay Safe
- Stay Connected
In addition, it provides emergency preparedness tips that can be vital to the safety of your staff and residents.
Here are some of the things you can find in the FEMA app:
- Find nearby shelters
- Receive weather alerts
- Share disaster photos
- Find a disaster recovery center nearby
- Supports Spanish language
Download the FEMA app here:
3. Google Translate App
Don't let a language barrier keep your teams from providing essential support during an emergency. Something as simple as a translation app can be the critical difference when it comes to the language diversity that exists on most multifamily properties.
So how would an English or Spanish-speaking member of your team understand a resident with an emergency who only speaks Arabic?
The Google Translate App is just the ticket. Just type or speak what you want to say in your native language and Translate will it into the desire target language. Turn the smartphone sideways and Translate will use the entire screen to display the translated text so your residents can read it! Super helpful on so many fronts...
4. Zello Push-To-Talk App
Two-way radios and walkie-talkies have been staples of maintenance teams for 20 years. They are easy to use and the team-wide broadcast is helpful when a resident has an emergency and needs help from the closest/available team member.
The team-wide voice communication is definitely handy, but with staff also being required to carry smartphones to run business-critical apps, they'd rather get of the extra device on their belt. That is where the Zello Push-to-Talk App comes in super-handy!
This free app allows property teams to setup up a group push-to-talk channel for their property, allowing one-to-one and one-to-many communication within the group. Photo and location sharing are also features, and Zello works seamlessly with your bluetooth accessories - they even have a Microsoft Windows client! If you need advanced features like live GPS mapping of team members, definitely check out Zello For Work
*Authors note: We came across this app while working with maintenance teams in Florida, where hurricanes, power outages & jammed phone networks are part of life. Zello plays a critical role in helping onsite, regional & national resources stay connected and keep residents safe when the only thing that seems to work are the cellular data networks. Here is a link to tips on using Zello for communications during a disaster event.
Note: The Google Translate and Zello Push-To-Talk Apps were also listed in our recent blog: 8 Must-Have Apps for Multifamily Maintenance Technicians
This solution is something that every community should look into - think of it as an Operating System for Emergencies in your Community:
5. SirenGPS App
While the SirenGPS app on its own provides some useful functionality for emergency situations, the opportunity to be a member of an entire community is where this solution shines.
According to their website.. "SirenGPS is the only communication platform that integrates emergency management tools and enhanced 911 with real-time visibility and interoperability for emergency managers and first responders in your community."
Click here to learn more about SirenGPS app
Final Point: This is by no means an exhaustive list, so if you or your property's operations team has a must-have app they use in emergency situations, by all means, let us know! Just send an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.