In light of the recent uptick in unbecoming weather as we are nearing the anniversary of the Gatlinburg wildfires in 2016 we thought now might be a good time to pull together resources for you, a short term rental property owner, about emergency preparedness relative to Sevier County, TN.
Understanding Local Risks
Sevier County is very fortunate to experience all four seasons, but that often means weather comes along with those seasonal changes. Below are a few natural occurrences to be aware of:
- Floods: The mountainous terrain and bodies of water in Gatlinburg and the surrounding areas make it prone to flooding, particularly during heavy rains and rapid snow melts. Flood risks are higher in low-lying areas and near streams or rivers. It’s important that you check the flood zoning for your property and understand the potential impact heavy rainfall or snowmelt may have on your property.
- Severe Storms: Gatlinburg experiences severe storms, including heavy rainfall, lightning, and sometimes hail. These storms can cause damage to properties and disrupt essential services, like electricity.
- Wildfires: The Great Smoky Mountains are susceptible to wildfires, especially during dry seasons. Factors contributing to wildfires include the region’s forest cover and sometimes human activities.
Importance of Staying Informed About Local Risks Through Reliable Sources
Reliable resources allow you to respond effectively to natural disasters. Here are a few resources that will allow you to stay in the know, even when you are not in town.
- TN.gov Wildland Fire website
- Sevier County Emergency Management Agency
- Sevier County Government Facebook Page
- Monitor local weather via your preferred news outlet
Developing Your Emergency Plan
There are a few steps that you can take to begin developing an emergency plan for your short term rental property.
Complete an assessment.
- Determine what specific risks might be associated with your property, considering its location, structure and surrounding environment.
- Determine what resources you may need to stock your property with such as safety equipment, supplies, and communication tools.
Develop a Strategy
- How will you mitigate risks?
- Will you improve exterior materials?
- Will you provide additional safety equipment?
Create Response Procedures
- How will you communicate with your guests and/or property manager?
- In what ways can action be taken in the event of an emergency to mitigate damages? Are those steps clearly outlined and displayed?
The Sevier County Sheriff’s office provides an extensive resource for developing your emergency plan. Here are just a few components you might want to include.
- Evacuation routes
- Shut off procedures for utilities
- First aid measures
- Safe shelter locations
- Communication plans
It’s important to continuously improve and update your emergency plan based on feedback from these authorities to ensure it aligns with local standards and practices.
Communication with Guests During Emergencies
It’s important to ensure you have a way to communicate with your guests about what to do in case of an emergency and during emergencies.
You can prepare guests for potential emergencies by designing a Guest Information Packet
This packet can include information like
- Emergency procedures
- Maps showing evacuation routes and safety equipment locations.
- List local emergency resources, including hospitals, pharmacies, and shelters.
Utilize a way to communicate digitally with guests via email, SMS, or property management apps to provide real-time updates on weather alerts and emergency situations.
Additional Measures for Guest Comfort and Confidence
Equipping your property with items like emergency lights, blankets, and basic supplies adds an additional layer of comfort for guests during unforeseen situations.
Taking a proactive approach to emergency preparedness is an investment in the safety and well-being of your guests and property! Remember, preparedness is an ongoing process, evolving with the changing landscapes and weather patterns of Gatlinburg and the surrounding areas.