2013 Doomsday Prep: 5 Things You Need To Know

As the end of year approaches, we reflect on our accomplishments of the past 12 months and how disorganized we (may) have become in the process of maintaining a property. 

Now is a good time to reorganize to ensure that Jan. 1 is an easy, no panic day. Here are five things that can be done to prepare for the end of 2013 (or, if you are a glass half-full type of person, the beginning of 2014):

1. Assess your order history: Get in touch with your primary supplier and ask for a list of the items that were ordered for the property over the last year. Some suppliers have the ability to break it down by accounting code and price. This will enable the property to plan for upcoming seasons based upon what happened this year. 

2. Hazardous communications update: By the beginning of December, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) required every employee to receive training on the new Hazardous Communication standards. In addition to this, the end of the year is a great occasion to review the Safety Data Sheet (formerly called the Material Safety Data Sheet) notebook. 

3. Issue new updated staff communication information: Quite frequently over the course of the previous 12 months, employees have been added or subtracted and their contact information may have changed. This is a great time to confirm all that information. Be sure to include all methods of communication. This can include email, cell phone, landline phone, and handles for various messaging apps, depending on company policy.

4. Review emergency action policies/procedures: This is especially important in areas that experience weather extremes. Think of what can happen under Murphy’s Law (whatever can go wrong will go wrong) then consider Simon’s Law (Murphy was an optimist). Then assemble a plan that can deal with as many variables as possible. 

For example; as tornadoes happen in my area from time to time, the community I worked at had an annual conversation with the maintenance department discussing what to do if a tornado were to occur. We talked through the decision-making process with questions like: What if the Property Manager/Maintenance Supervisor is unavailable? Do they know whom to call to report a widespread power, gas or water outage? How would we handle a quick evacuation of the property if necessary? What about speaking with the media?

 5. Clean out the shop: An often repeated statement of maintenance technicians trying to find a part is: “When I have time, I’m going to reorganize this place.”  The time is now!

Start by getting in touch with your supplier. Often they will help with bins or boxes that can help keep the smaller parts separated. Keeping the low-flow flappers separated from the standard flappers will be a time saver! Be sure to get rid of the parts that seem to collect over time. Garbage disposal collars are often kept “just in case,” but you only need one on hand, not 23. 

Lastly, empty the area and perform some intelligent design. This means to put the most used items at eye level and lesser used items out of the way. Once items are placed, mark the shelf so that they don’t move. This can help with reordering as well since there will only be one location for all of the stocked items.