Qualilty Improvement for Senior Living Communities
GuideOne Risk Resources for Health Care
1111 Ashworth Road
W. Des Moines, IA 50265-3538



Underground Parking Garages

Underground parking garages in Senior Living Communities present significant safety challenges. The most common concerns are related to fires and falls. Listed below are important loss prevention guidelines concerning fire safety and fall prevention for underground parking garages.

Fire Safety

  • Make sure all fire protection systems, including automatic fire sprinklers and smoke detectors, are in proper working order through regular inspection and testing by professional contractors.
  • Limit the amount of storage a tenant is allowed in their parking space. This is a significant issue since excessive and uncontrolled amounts of materials can severely limit the effectiveness of your sprinkler system if a fire would occur.
    • Keep at least 18 inches of clear space below and away from all automatic sprinkler heads.
    • Never allow any storage of flammable paints, solvents or gasoline.
    • Set a limit on the amount of combustible boxes and materials any resident can store in front of their vehicles.
    • Never allow tenants to utilize electrical appliances, such as refrigerators, freezers, and battery chargers.
    • Include specific storage guidelines in tenant communication, monitor storage conditions and notify residents if they are in violation of these guidelines.
  • Prohibit smoking in this area.
  • Make sure any flammable liquids used for building maintenance and services are stored in Underwriters Laboratories (UL) listed containers and cabinets.
  • Limit storage of building materials, combustibles and other fixtures as this again could limit the effectiveness of your fire protection system.
  • Make sure fire doors leading into mechanical rooms, trash chute rooms, stairwells and elevator lobby areas are kept closed at all times and not propped open with blocks, wedges, etc.

Fall Prevention

  • Keep the walking areas, including entrances, exits, stairways and main driving areas, well lit at all times.
  • Make sure interior stairwells are provided with handrails in good condition and adequately secured in place.
  • Inspect any defects in the walking surfaces, such as uneven surfaces, potholes, raised edges and cracks regularly and repair them.
  • Ensure trip hazards, such as electrical cords, building materials, and furniture, are not located in the path of travel.
  • During winter when ice and snow accumulate, make sure to monitor and apply de-icing products (salt/sand) at the exterior of exit doors, and both inside and outside of garage door openings.
  • Utilize floor mats specifically designed for removal of dust, dirt and moisture in elevator lobby areas. Make sure mats are in good condition and free of hazards, such as worn areas, torn sections and turned-up edges.
  • Place "Wet Floor" signs in areas like the elevator lobby following cleaning or poor weather conditions when tenants may track in water or snow to these areas.
  • Use bright colored paint to highlight common walkways, crossing areas, between vehicles, concrete speed bumps, tire stops and curbing.

Following the above guidelines can make a major difference in reducing or eliminating the property and fall hazards that exist with underground parking garages.

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