How to keep your apartment safe during monsoon: A checklist

Pre-monsoon preparedness and safety plan for apartments

An apartment complex in Bengaluru.
Buildings are susceptible to weather conditions, and Bengaluru experiences rainfall throughout the year. A pre-monsoon safety plan helps mitigate some of the seen and unseen hazards. Representational image. Pic courtesy: Sandhya Bhat

Monsoon is one of the oldest weather observations, an economically important weather pattern, and the most anticipated weather event and unique weather phenomenon. Yet, it is only partially understood and notoriously difficult to predict.

Monsoon brings several difficulties, and events, which include, downgraded situations like heavy rainfall, flood, lightning, and cyclone which may demand safety precautions at high priority.

Buildings are susceptible to weather conditions, and Bengaluru experiences rainfall throughout the year. A pre-monsoon safety plan helps mitigate some of the seen and unseen hazards.

General safety precautions

Provide preventive measures and guidance to Association management, employees, workers, and visitors. It should focus on the loss/damage control measures and the management systems in mitigation and prevention.

  • Maintain an updated list of telephone numbers and contacts for local offices of emergency preparedness and other essential utilities, such as BESCOM, Fire department, BWSSB, Police, etc.
  • Arrange backup communications, such as two-way radios or cellular phones, and have spare batteries and backup power/ emergency generators.
  • Ensure all stormwater drains, and rainwater harvesting pipes are clear from blockage and that the RWH pits are desilted.
  • All hazardous waste storage areas should be covered. Arrange to dispose of as much waste as possible before monsoon.
  • Keep enough potable water stored.
  • Ensure that the rainwater harvesting pipes are cleared of any blockages and that the pits are desilted.

Housekeeping checklist

Sl #Inspection ItemsIndication
1Sanitation
aAre sufficient toilets and washing facilities available?
bAre toilets and washing facilities clean and hygienic?
cIs an adequate supply of potable water available?
dIs drinking water stored and dispensed in clearly marked containers that are not used for any other purpose?
2Waste
aAre trash and recyclable containers placed throughout the job site, marked for proper use, and emptied at regular intervals?
bAre drip pans used to collect oils and fluids from waste bins and composters?
cAre all scrap, waste, recyclable, and surplus materials disposed of in accordance with local regulations and local codes?
dAre sufficient waste or trash containers provided, used, and emptied when appropriate?
Housekeeping Checklist for Apartments. Pic Courtesy: Prashant Karkare

Read more: Why you should pay attention to “home inspection” during property handover


Safety precautions for electrical and firefighting equipment

The likelihood of an increase in an electrical fire during monsoon so special attention should be given to Electrical and Firefighting Equipment.

  • Do a thorough inspection of all the electrical connections and electric switches to see if they are exposed to rain.
  • Do not touch the electrical cable or wire with your bare hands whether the cable is alive or dead.
  • Do not attain any electrical work or electric connection if you are not a competent electrician.
  • Do not insert the naked wire in the socket.
  • Do not use damaged or more jointed electric cables.
  • Check all the cable joints and connections frequently.
  • Make sure that the generators are serviced ahead of the rainy season.
  • Lifts and elevators in the apartments also need to be serviced before the rainy season. Some parts need to be greased and oiled well to ensure the smooth running of the equipment. People can get stuck inside the elevators during power cuts, and the equipment needs to be on point for the emergency measures to work properly.
  • Identify all critical areas of the facility, and make sure at least one identified person knows the proper electrical shutdown procedures and is authorised to implement them round the clock.
  • If your body is wet or the floor is wet, do not touch the switchboard or any other electrical equipment, it may give you an electric shock.
  • Rainwater seeping through the roof /ceiling or through a window opening in the house can result in short circuits and flashover resulting in a household fire.
  • Ensure proper earthing of each and every electrical appliance. Double earthing is to be provided to all three-phase power supply, distribution boards and/or voltage exceeding 230 volts.
  • Provide weatherproof covers/ rain hoods on electrical installations, DG sets and welding generator sets/ rectifiers.
  • All the electrical loads will be routed through Residual Current Circuit Breaker (RCCB)/ Earth Leakage Circuit Breaker (ELCB).
  • Keep battery-operated lights in good condition to meet the emergency.
  • Ensure the use of safety material/PPE such as insulated platforms, safety shoes, rubber hand gloves etc, if there is a need to touch electrical installations.

Pre-monsoon checklist for electrical and firefighting equipment

Fire Audit list
Pre-monsoon checklist for firefighting equipment. Pic courtesy: Prashant Karkare
Electrical systems audit list
Pre-monsoon checklist for electrical equipment. Pic courtesy: Prashant Karkare

Read more: How to make your apartment fire-safe


Safety precautions for civil works

Roof

a. Tiled roof: A large number of apartments in Bengaluru have Mangalore tiled roof, while they have stood the test of time, especially in cases of properly fired clay tiles, the quality of newer tiles are not known, however, it comes with its own issues as they are more susceptible to weather vagaries:

  • Check & fix cracks in the tiles
  • Check for missing or loose tiles from the roof
  • Have a check on the valleys of the roof. Make sure there are no holes in it
  • Expansion joints can be a major source of leakage, check for gaps, holes, etc

b. Flat roof: Most flats have terraces on the roof. Over a period hairline cracks are formed. These need to be chipped and the area needs to be filled up. Apply primer and waterproof chemicals wherever required. Along with the waterproofing, a coat of heat-resistant paint helps control temperature.

Sanding needs to be done for walls which are damaged.

Exteriors

  • Painting: Painting should be done before the advent of the monsoon.
  • Choose waterproof paint along with water sealant, which works as a protective layer on concrete walls.
  • Remove dead leaves and branches of trees close to the building, not only will it avoid accidents during windy days, but will also ensure that the leaves or debris will not create blockage in the drains

Check for drainage points: Make sure stormwater drain points in the terrace and penthouse open areas are unobstructed and cleaned regularly so that there is no chance of rainwater clogging anywhere. You can also level the terrace by applying cement plaster for a smooth flow of water.

Interiors

  • Rainy season increases the chances of the floors getting muddy and wet, which not only looks ugly but also can also cause accidents, especially on smooth floors.
  • Check for leakage after every spell of rain.
  • Provide large non-slip doormats at all entrances, for people to dry their feet before entering the facility.
  • Identify areas for umbrellas and wet shoes.
  • Check for termite and ant infestation. Implement a strong pest control system to keep pests at bay and adhere to some natural ways to get rid of them rather than using chemicals.
  • Doors: Check for rusted metal-framed doors and windows. Wooden doors and windows tend to swell up during monsoons if they are not properly fixed.

Check for cracks: An early examination and repair when the cracks are identified will ensure that damage is minimum as once leakage starts, it spoils the paint and the damage can be much more than what eyes can see. You can opt for a fibreglass crack-filling compound, for both interior and exterior surfaces. It makes sure to have an unmatched crack bridging ability for plaster cracks of up to 3 mm.

Protects electronic items: Exposed electrical fittings can pose a great danger to life during monsoon. It is advisable to hire an electrician to check for any loose wiring and damaged electrical cords. Alternatively, one can keep moisture-absorbing bags behind electronic equipment so that they can absorb moisture and keep your valuables safe as well as prevent shock circuits.

Use sealants: Rainwater usually enters the homes if they are any gaps in window and door sills. Further, if you have a split air conditioner installed at home, water from strong wind can come through the wall cut out which is made for refrigerant piping. Make sure you have got them checked and if needed, close them using good quality silicone sealants.

Safety precautions for vehicle movements

  • The entire vehicle should be fit for the monsoon season. Carry out pre-monsoon checks like wiper, headlights, horn, reverse horn, tyre condition, brake etc. These should be in good working condition.
  • Accelerate your vehicle gradually, anticipate sudden stops, and avoid sudden braking as that could lead to skidding of the vehicle.
  • Drive very carefully through the flooded area. Do not take the chance of driving through flooded areas if the pool of water is more than the height of the tyre. You may encounter unseen hazards like open manholes, muddy areas or trenches, undulation or other objectionable objects etc.
  • If visibility is poor due to heavy rain or fog then the parking light or headlight must be on. Drive at a controlled speed. Lower visibility requires higher concentration.

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About Prashant Karkare 1 Article
Prashant Karkare is an alumnus of CEPT, Ahmedabad. He is currently working as Principal Consultant at ESC and has over 20 years of experience working in urban planning, water and wastewater services, and areas of urban management on project formulation and appraisal. In urban management, his experience is in the fields of urban governance, institutional development, project development, urban landscape, environmental planning, and capital investment.
About Sandhya Bhat 13 Articles
Sandhya is a Citizen Anchor at Citizen Matters with a keen interest in public policy. She is also a Joint Secretary and Governing Council Member with Bangalore Apartment Federation and a member of the Koramangala Warriors Group. Occasionally tweets at @Kora_prapancha

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