Apartment living: How to stay safe during lockdown

Keeping safe from infection by the coronavirus in an apartment block during lockdown can be challenging owing to the close proximity of people living in the building, but there are measures that can be implemented to reduce the risk.

“There is much we can learn from the experience of countries that are ahead of us on the disease curve,” says Omar Kinnear, developer of ResidentPortal, a web-based communication platform for community schemes.  More than 100 schemes use the system, the majority of them in Gauteng.

“Although the government has now made it clear that residents in community schemes are not to leave their properties, for the thousands who live in sectional title buildings, there is no choice but to share lifts, keypads, stairwells and other areas,” he says.

“In these environments, it is essential that extra care should be taken to prevent the spread of the virus.”

Kinnear shares some tips gleaned from countries such as the US, China and the UK.

Responsibilities of trustees / managing agents

*Ramp up your building’s cleaning schedule

Cleaning companies fall under the list of essential services permitted to continue working during lockdown, and most buildings are still serviced by them. If not, then the onus falls on sectional title scheme trustees and managing agents to ensure that cleaning of common areas is increased.

The building’s lobby, elevators, mailboxes, and stairwells should be frequently sanitised and wiped down, as must other areas such as a shared laundry room, storage area, or any other spaces tenants share.

*Make sanitiser stations available in commonly used areas

Tenants have no choice but to press elevator buttons or access their mailboxes in the coming weeks. But one way to keep them safer is by installing hand sanitiser pumps (either standalone or wall-mounted) in those areas so tenants can easily cleanse theirhands before potentially touching their faces and risking infection.

*Post educational signage

Health officials recommend using sanitiser and washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and to try to avoid touching one’s face.  Signage posted at the building’s entrance and lift doors will act as a reminder to follow this advice.

*Increase ventilation

While recirculating air has become the default in many buildings, ventilating with outdoor air is vital to diluting airborne contaminants and decreasing disease transmission rates. For buildings without heating and ventilation systems, another option is simply to encourage residents to open windows to let in more outdoor air.

Tips for residents

*Practice social distancing

There are likely to be more people around the building because so many are working from home and staying home from school. It is important to follow the social distancing guidelines. Even if you are good friends with your neighbour, don’t visit together.

*Try not to touch surfaces such as lift buttons and railings

Do your best to not expose your skin to direct contact with any surfaces that may be touched by other people. Make a habit of washing your hands as soon as you are in your apartment.

*Prioritise emergency repairs above inconveniences

Unless there’s a burst pipe or electrical issue or similar, rather delay your repairs.  A dripping tap is more of an inconvenience and really not damaging anything or threatening your health and safety.  You don’t want maintenance workers – or anyone else –  to come into your house unless it is an emergency.

ABOUT ResidentPortal

ResidentPortal is developed and managed by Sandton-based software consulting and development company, Business Xponent Solutions (BXS).  The estate communication platform is one of the products emerging from 20 years of experience in the software industry of its founder, Omar Kinnear.  One of the original developers of the SARS eFiling platform, Kinnear brings to ResidentPortal a wealth of knowledge of system performance and security.

Since 2016, around 100 complexes are using the Free Plan of ResidentPortal, and over 1000 residents, mostly in and around Gauteng, are benefiting from the way the full-featured Standard and Pro packages are simplifying their lives in their estates and complexes.

For more information, contact:  Omar Kinnear, 078 798 3378



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