At the time it was complete pandemonium, and utterly terrifying.
Thankfully, it all turned out to be a false alarm—a car in one of the parking lots caught on fire. The smoke from this started a chain reaction where people tried to get away, knocking over displays in the process. Other people heard the loud noises and assumed it was gunshots (there was sadly a precedent for this—there was a gunman at this mall several months ago), which started a mall-wide panic. Luckily, no one was hurt.
I am grateful the employees of the restaurant knew where to direct everyone.
This experience was a powerful reminder of the importance of being prepared for emergency situations. At your apartment communities, do you have procedures for what to do in a crisis? Does your staff know what to do? It is crucial that everyone is on the same page and knows what to do in the event of an emergency, be it fire, hurricane, or otherwise. Have a written plan, and perform scheduled drills with your staff. Make sure everyone knows where the exits are and what to do in different situations, and that they know how to communicate this to residents. Hopefully you’ll never need to actually use any of these procedures. But, if the situation ever arises, it is important to be prepared.
The safety of the residents and your staff should always be your main priority.
-Jessica Fiur, Senior Editor