Red, White and Boom! How to Avoid Those July Fourth Disasters

by Amanda Cupp on July 1st, 2015

Over the Fourth of July holiday, families and friends come together to celebrate the nation’s founding; however, for property managers of residential apartment communities, it’s a time for vigilance against the many types of accidents and incidents that can occur when people congregate and celebrations get out of hand.

To keep Independence Day in your community fun and safe for everyone, be aware of these common dangers, and take steps to avoid them.

Fireworks accidents
It seems that the news around this time of year always includes fireworks accidents, ranging from minor to extremely serious. Last year in California, two men were trying to ignite a mortar-type firework device when it exploded in their hands, seriously injuring both men.

And in Massachusetts, a man and a teenage boy were attempting to light a commercial-grade firework when it exploded, seriously injuring the teen’s hand. Both incidents occurred at apartment communities.

Back-porch cookout disasters
An unattended grill on a balcony caused a 2014 fire at a residential community in Louisiana. The fire left residents of twelve apartments homeless. Fortunately, no one was injured, but the building’s third floor was a total loss, while the first and second floors suffered extreme water damage.

Pool hazards
A 2013 lawsuit followed the near-drowning of a 3-year-old Maryland boy who wandered into the gated pool area of the apartment community where he lived. The boy survived but suffered permanent brain damage.

An appellate court ruled in favor of the child’s mother, and against the community’s management, when it found that the community had failed to follow state safety standards for swimming pools.

Drinking to excess
Where there are celebrations, there’s likely to be alcohol, and lots of it. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that over the July Fourth holiday in 2009, about 942 emergency room visits each day could be attributed to alcohol use by people younger than twenty-one. That was double the typical number.

Alcohol can cause a number of ill effects in residential apartment communities, including accidents with fireworks, grills, and pools. It also can increase instances of domestic violence and injuries.

Heading off potential problems over the Independence Day holiday
For all the potential dangers of the July Fourth holiday, the keys to prevention are anticipation and communication. To head off problems, take the following steps:

* Think through the specific problems that could arise in your community.
* Review local safety statutes, or consult with your attorney, to ensure that your pool and other areas comply.
* Put together a comprehensive flyer, broken down by category, including specific safety information for residents.
* List penalties for breaking local laws or for failing to abide by community rules, up to and including eviction.
* Make it clear that residents are responsible for the behavior of their guests, including drinking in common areas.
* Place the safety flyer on all resident doors several days in advance of the holiday, and post it in visible locations throughout the community.
* Add a notice to your website home page, and post the flyer on the site for download.
* Use an automated texting or calling service to contact residents with the main points of your flyer, and direct them to the website for more information.

With a little preparation, you can make it a safe holiday for everyone in your community.


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