Plan Ahead with an Emergency Response Plan

Quick – your next-door neighbour accidentally set the microwave for two hours instead of two minutes, and now those hot pockets he was warming up have caught fire and set the whole condo building ablaze! 

Where do you go? How do you evacuate? Who’s in charge of making sure everyone got out okay? And most importantly: does anyone have any extra hot pockets???

If you just read the above and your only takeaway is that you want some hot pockets now, we’re proud of you! You must have an Emergency Response Plan in place and know exactly what you’d do in the case of a fire, flood, or another building-wide emergency.

Suppose you’re sitting on the other side, and food is the least of your concerns. In that case, you may realize your condo community might be under-prepared for handling a cataclysmic, hot-pocket-related fire. Fear not, though; that’s precisely what we’re here to help you with today.


Five Helpful Tips for an Emergency Response Plan

1. First Off – What’s an Emergency Response Plan?

Before getting too deep into things, we thought we’d take a moment to cover just what an ERP is in the first place. 

An Emergency Response Plan – or ERP – is a group of strategies and systems meant to safeguard people and property in the event of an emergency or accident while hopefully also helping to end the crisis and avoid further injury or damage to property. More than just a simple evacuation route, a full-fledged ERP should include details regarding muster points, designated safety leadership roles, and possibly even provisions for first aid training for certain members of the condo community. 

ERPs have been proven to mitigate damage and loss, and we heartily encourage anyone living in a condo building to consider adopting one of these life-saving plans. 

Here at Catalyst, we consider them so imperative that we don’t even bill extra when we help our clients develop them. It’s simply a prudent practice to have in place and, in all honesty, is just good business – especially when considering the alternative.

2. Planning that All-Important Evacuation Route 

When drawing up an ERP for your condo complex, there are going to be a few points you’ll want to be sure you touch upon – and chief among them, of course, is planning a safe and accessible route for each and every condo unit owner and resident to evacuate. 

This, of course, should be much more thoughtful and detailed than just instructions pointing toward the main doors! Each condo unit should have its specific evacuation and alternate evacuation route – one that considers the safest, quickest way to the nearest exit without relying on elevators or other such electronics or mechanics that might be compromised in an emergency. Have these routes highlighted on each floor of your building and ideally available to every resident in their condo units for maximum safety and efficacy. 

3. Making Sure Everyone’s Safe and Accounted For

A proper Emergency Response Plan must go beyond just getting everyone out the front door. That’s a significant first step, but what happens when people are outside? Where do they go? Where would it be safe to go? How will you know? 


The first thing that needs to happen is establishing muster points as part of each floor and condo unit’s evacuation plan. Once everyone’s made their way outside the building and toward the proper muster point, it’s vital to have a system in place to quickly and accurately determine if anyone is missing. This should also include the upkeep of an emergency contact system so that you can reach out to anyone who’s MIA. Further, it’s helpful to ensure each unit or owner has a “buddy unit” that’s aware of residents who might be out of town or otherwise away from the property. This is an initiative that’s not only helpful in an emergency but contributes to the safety and security of the overall condo community as well. 

4. Mitigating Damage and Injury with Key Building Knowledge

This is where an Emergency Response Plan really starts to gain a serious edge over your typical boilerplate evacuation plan. 

In addition to evacuation routes, muster points, and emergency contacts, your ERP should also work to identify essential shut-off valves and safety features within each individual unit and throughout the building as a whole. By including these details and making unit owners aware of this information, you can head off a major disaster before it actually occurs, saving life, limb, and property. 

5. Creating Awareness Around Your Emergency Response Plan

Now, a plan’s only effective when everybody’s in on it – and that’s where it falls to your condo corporation, condo management company, and larger condo community to help get the word out about your building’s Emergency Response Plan. 

There are several ways to generate awareness around your building’s ERP – and many of them are just the same methods you’d use to spread the word about anything in your condo community. 

First, be sure your ERP is readily available wherever owners access their regular, non-emergency condo documentation – whether that be on an online portal or elsewhere. Post the broad strokes of your ERP in communal spaces, bulletin boards, and other similar community-oriented messaging hubs. If your condo has a welcome package for new residents, be sure the ERP is included. Also, consider bundling it with AGM minutes, in a condo newsletter or anywhere else that condo-related info is being shared. 

The more places you put your ERP, the more familiar residents will be with it – and the more second-nature their reactions will be in an emergency.

Nobody wants to experience a condo emergency – but if you do, you’ll be glad to have a proper Emergency Response Plan to get you through it. Want to learn more about adequately prepping for a precarious predicament? Call us at Catalyst Condo Management, and we’ll be happy to walk you through the process today.