Summertime should be an enjoyable time for all, but as a Community Association Manager, this time of year raises a few big concerns. Your goal is to keep residents safe from threats, maintain peace within the community, and make sure that everyone has equal access to take advantage of community perks. Thankfully, a little preparation and communication with residents up front goes a long way.
This summer, make sure your association is prepared to provide the best possible experiences for your community with these summer fun and safety tips.
1. Focus on water safety
According to Safe Kids Worldwide, two-thirds of fatal drownings happen between May and August – and data shows that pools pose more of a risk to youngest children (those between one year and four years old) than natural settings. The good news is, by taking action to improve and enforce your community pool safety rules, you can help reduce avoidable accidents.
Take proactive steps to ensure compliance with local laws, as well as inform parents and swimmers about the community rules. Here are a few suggestions:
- Make sure safety rules are posted in proximity to community pools.
- Regularly inspect, test and update safety equipment.
- Provide guidelines for use to all homeowners.
- Recommend swimming lessons for all non-swimmers, even those who choose just to relax by the pool. You could even try negotiating swim-class discounts for members.
If your board is still debating whether to continue providing on-site lifeguards or shift to a swim-at-your-own-risk policy, read this before making a final decision.
2. Set clear rules about fireworks
Since sparks and embers from backyard fireworks can damage roofs and other structural elements, many communities limit or prevent live firework displays in residential areas.
Announce your community’s rules on your website, in your resident newsletter, or via your online homeowner portal to educate residents, and be prepared to enforce your rules consistently.
If you do not permit residents to light their own fireworks, consider offering alternatives, such as:
- A professional light display at the community park
- Family movie and popcorn in the club house
- A community block party or barbecue in a common area
3. Encourage responsible use of common areas
As the weather warms up, more people get outside and there are more opportunities to get to know neighbors better. There is also an increased risk of disagreement and confusion. Make sure all homeowners know how to use BBQ equipment safely, and set guidelines for clean-up so that the next group can enjoy the BBQ area as well. Clearly communicate policies about usage, whether the space is only available on a first-come-first-served basis, or if residents may reserve it for exclusive use in advance.
Association management teams can also help by inspecting all common areas, including parks and BBQ areas to ensure all furniture and fixtures are ready for the heavier use that they will likely see during the summer months. This is also the perfect time to update signs with area rules, emergency contact information, and safety tips.
4. Keep the peace
To avoid having to settle an argument over a guest parking issue or music blaring after midnight, communicate with your homeowners before they mail invitations for summer parties. Get the news out about quiet hours, parking rules for guests and overnight visitors, and any other restricted activities that may initiate after-hours calls to you or local law enforcement.
5. Eliminate vacation headaches
With an increased interest in travel during the hot summer months, residents may be tempted to list their homes on AirBnB or other home sharing sites to make a bit of extra cash. Although some homeowners view the flexibility to participate in home sharing as an important priority, in many regions, there are legal restrictions preventing short term vacation rentals. And regardless of local laws, residents must also follow Community Association restrictions on home sharing.
Remind residents of short-term and long-term rental policies and non-homeowners occupancy rules. If vacation rentals are allowed, consider providing a few extra guidelines to minimize any negative effects for neighbors, such as noise, security, or parking issues.
Be sure to remind residents about these rules in your community newsletter so everyone is aware.
6. Encourage summer sustainability
Hotter weather means association residents turn on the AC more often and may use more water on lawns and gardens. Finding ways to conserve where possible is important, so remind residents of the following tips to protect natural resources and, hopefully, enjoy a lower utility bill:
- Consider naturally drying laundry on an outdoor clothesline to save energy. Some 19 states, including Texas, Florida, California and Nevada have laws on the books that protect a homeowner’s right to access solar power with clotheslines and other devices that harness the natural energy of the sun, yet many CC&Rs still prohibit such use. Find out if your CC&Rs are in step with local and state laws.
- Check sprinkler and irrigation system settings to make sure that water usage is reasonable, and water at dawn or dusk to prevent water evaporation during hot summer days.
- Check the meter regularly to detect leaks, especially if you have a backyard pool.
- Save energy when running the AC this summer by regularly replacing HVAC filters, making sure windows are well-sealed, using ceiling fans to circulate air, and installing a programmable thermostat to regulate the temperature more efficiently. Also, try using blackout curtains in sunny rooms to keep heat out of the home.
Feel free to use any of this information to create a summer safety brochure or community guide for your members.
Do you have any additional tips for Community Associations to promote a safe and enjoyable summer? Let us know in the comments.