Tips for Hosting Safe Community-Wide Gatherings
To promote togetherness and a real sense of community, it’s important that board members of a homeowners’ association (HOA) host regular community events throughout the year. Scheduling fun seasonal activities allows residents to connect in a personal way, enhancing the positive environment of the association. To ensure your event is a success—especially one of a large scale—it’s critical to put practical safety measures into place. Read on to learn tips for hosting a safe and unforgettable gathering for association members.
1. Check your governing documents for compliance.
Before planning your event, review your governing documents to ensure your event complies with the HOA’s rules and regulations. These documents will include operating rules and approved uses for common areas. You may also find restrictions on items that may present safety concerns, such as electrical cords, candles, or other open-flame heat sources.
Additionally, there may be limitations to the type of gathering you can host. For example, holiday parties with any religious affiliation may go against HOA regulations. Your governing documents will guide where you host your event, how you do it, and the type of gathering you intend.
2. Ensure the venue can properly accommodate the crowd.
Whether you plan to hold your event indoors or out, confirm the number of guests is within your control and that the venue can accommodate your crowd. Check your governing documents for crowd limitations on HOA-owned venues, like a community clubhouse or theater room. Being able to control a big group and properly accommodate them helps prevent fire hazards, property damage, and other unsafe conditions.
During the planning phase for your gathering, get an idea of how many people will attend the event before deciding on a venue. To do this:
- Send out a community poll to see how many people are interested in attending.
- Develop an easy process for members to RSVP.
- Determine if the event is only open to members or if non-HOA guests can attend.
- If it’s a formal event, create invitations that clearly state how many people are invited per household.
3. Properly inspect and maintain the event area.
Unpredictable weather can create dangerous conditions for event attendees. An essential safety precaution, inspecting indoor and outdoor high-traffic areas before the big day can prevent slips and falls. If there are hazardous conditions in need of repair, attend to them quickly to avoid accidents.
Areas to inspect include:
- Rails and ramps
- Parking lots
You should also fill potholes in the pavement, fix uneven sideways and walkways, add skid-proof mats inside doorways, and check that parking lots are well-lit. Servicing these areas immediately guarantees a worry-free experience for event attendees—and board members.
4. Check that carbon monoxide and smoke alarms are functioning.
An easy to-do before any gathering is to check that all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors have new batteries and are functioning correctly. If there happens to be a fire or unsafe breathing conditions during your event, these alarms will be your first indicator that something isn’t right. Similarly, having fire extinguishers on hand—and knowing how to use them—will provide peace of mind for those hosting indoor and outdoor gatherings.
5. Only use professional vendors.
Professional vendors have the experience to make your event a success, providing proof of insurance, licensing, and other risk-management procedures as part of their duties. It’s the board’s responsibility to put the time and due diligence into the screening process. While it might be tempting to save money with community volunteers or less-experienced recommendations, they’re less likely to have the credentials or qualifications governing documents require.
Some professional vendors you may need for your event include:
- Parking or valet personnel
- Photographers and videographers
- Performers or other entertainment
6. Create an event emergency plan.
Always have a plan in case of an emergency. Confirm that your board of directors and management representatives are on the same page when it comes to communicating, who is responsible for doing what, and the steps to take if an accident occurs. Understand the accommodations you’ll have to make in any circumstance, such as assisting elderly residents in an evacuation. A quick and organized response to an emergency can make all the difference in maintaining a safe environment.
How to Prepare Your Community for Winter Weather Emergencies
Preparation is key to keeping yourself and your community safe and secure. To learn more about the potential risks of winter weather and how to ensure your community is ready for harsh conditions, read our article, “How to Prepare Your Community for Winter Weather Emergencies.”