Staying Safe in your Community
As residents in a community association, part of your responsibility is to help maintain the different communal areas also known as common areas. While your association dues/assessments will take care of most of the tasks associated with community upkeep, you still have to give a lot of attention to how you tend to such common areas as the pool, BBQ spot, and other shared spaces.
Summertime Is Serious
Your community is going to have very specific rules and regulations about the use of the different common areas. For example, the pool will have established hours, as well as very clear times when you are not allowed to use it because of safety issues. There may be no lifeguard available, or it may be undergoing maintenance or repair, and so on.
Obeying such restrictions is an obvious “must,” and yet there are other guidelines that you, your family, or guest might easily overlook. For instance, if you speak with anyone who is in charge of safety around the pool areas you will hear that children constantly run about on slick surfaces, everyone leaves bags and objects in walkways, and that many fail to close gates or monitor the youngest swimmers at all times.
As part of a community, take on the responsibility for ensuring safety whenever you are enjoying your communal spaces. Try to encourage others to practice more awareness of pool safety in general, and don't worry if you get a reputation as a worrier because statistics prove that far too many avoidable tragedies and injuries occur in common areas like pools each year.
Grilling is Delicious and Dangerous
Of course, the pool is but one of the common areas in which summertime injuries can occur. Another spot where danger is present is the barbecue area. Many communities feature charcoal as well as gas grills for residents to use, and according to National Fire Protection Association statistics, there are more than eight thousand fires caused by summertime grilling every year.
Unfortunately, around half of the injuries caused by these fires are thermal burns – meaning that people are seriously injured to varying degrees because they are exposed to the open flames or the heat of the grills themselves.
To avoid risk of the worst injuries, the NFPA recommends that grills be located safe distances from buildings. Your community has probably already taken care of this issue, but if you believe that grills are too close to the communal area structures, present this to the board for review.
However, one thing that you can do is to make sure that children and pets are far from the grill. Their running about and attempts to snatch treats from the area can lead to serious injury. Additionally, you may want to determine if the communal grills are cleaned and maintained properly too. After all, fat buildup and clogged fuel lines are major contributors to gas or charcoal grill fires every year as well.
Finally, though it seems obvious, a grill must never be left unattended. Whether you have finished cooking and are allowing coals to die out or you have only just started it to allow it to heat up, you should never walk away and leave it without supervision.
In addition to pools and grilling areas, many common areas in HOAs and other communities feature lawns, playing fields, gardens, and playgrounds. During the summer months these can be home to stinging insects and creatures that might pose a threat to the safety of those nearby. Keeping a vigilant eye for such visitors is part of your responsibility as a resident. Though shared spaces are taken care of by dues and maintenance teams, they are common areas that benefit the most from safe and careful use by residents year round.