Re: "emergency plan" for a cohousing community?
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Tue, 18 Sep 2018 08:19:19 -0700 (PDT)
> On Sep 17, 2018, at 5:00 PM, Sophie Glasser <sophiemosaicjoy [at]> 
> wrote:

> Do any cohousing communities have an “emergency plan”? Specifically what to 
> do if there is a safety threat to everyone from weather, fire, etc and you 
> need to make sure everyone is alerted quickly

We have a RISC pod — can’t remember what the initials mean — that is active 
from time to time. We once had a designated person on each corridor responsible 
for checking that everyone was out for a fire alarm. Now I think we just check 
with each other. We have a checklist that a RISC member uses to be sure 
everyone is present or accounted for at our offsite assembly spot (out on the 
corner) after fire alarms.

We had a telephone tree but it was too hard to keep up to date, or remember.

Email is incredibly effective. I’ve put out emails on 5 occasions in which I or 
someone close needed immediate attention — falls, flooding water, etc.— and had 
5-7 responses within 2 minutes. (And the responses keep coming for the 
afternoon with people checking in the next day.) 

People post an email to let everyone know that the CH door and keypad isn’t 
working and to bring your key. (Some people enter their units through the CH so 
this is essential.)

Elevator is out. We have 3 households that can’t use the stairs. This is 
serious. They can’t go home.

An email to people when we are having a fairly local wind and rain storm with 
lightning and tornado warnings during rush hour to tell people to stay at the 
office for awhile.

> Also how do you decide as to when it is truly an “emergency”?

What is defined as an emergency is usually a life threatening event. In 
cohousing that extends to serious property damage. We have people designated 
who can make emergency decisions immediately. I think it is 2 members of the 
board but in general, a lot of people emerge and take action. What undesignated 
people would be hesitant to do is spend a lot of money. Or call the police.

But after all that, I do wish we had a big clanging bell in the piazza in front 
of the CH to ring for even lesser and happier events. Party starts now stuff.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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