Commentary: Safety and Security at Your RV Park
Editor's Note: The following column, written by Bud Surles, appears in the current issue of "Bud Surles' Consulting Group Newsletter."
It is saddening and heartbreaking to hear the more than frequent reports of people being killed or injured in RV parks and resorts, state and national parks, and other areas where people gather to enjoy their leisure time. These incidents have occurred through murder, natural disasters, carelessness and neglect of common safety standards. This has been occurring with such frequency that it would not be surprising to see a combination of things happening – loss of business and increased federal and state regulations. Neither of these alternatives should be greeted as good news.
Added to the dilemma that these atrocities are creating, we find that the number one factor in "Baby Boomer" decision-making about their RV destination is security – security for themselves and family, and security for their high dollar rigs. Now we find ourselves needing to be on the cutting edge of combating the perceptions of unsecure and unsafe parks.
The following are a few of the ways that individual parks and resorts can become more secure.
- Place a curfew on ingress and egress from your park by non-park guests. This can be accomplished in part by installing key pad entrance gates and pressure pad exit gates. These gates don't necessarily have to be in a closed position during the busy day, but could be a valuable asset to unmanned parks, large parks and safety conscious parks. Having them activated during the curfew hours would not hinder traffic and yet give your patrons a sense of security.
- Security cameras are another way to enhance the visitor perception of the safety and security of the park. These cameras not only act as a deterrent to mischief and mayhem, but they also can provide real evidence when violations occur. You will be surprised how quickly you come to rely upon these cameras. I dare say if you have a gas tank in your park, a security camera aimed at the nozzle will pay for itself in a very short while. But most importantly, they can go a long way in protecting lives.
- Know your park or resort. Do not stretch your income by building without adequate safeguards (generally regulations are a result of us not doing our job). Don't build in hazard areas; don't build unsafe play equipment; do post safety rules where people can see them; have a well thought out evacuation plan; and be as concerned about your visitors' safety as you are your own profitability.
- Hire a security guard. While this may seem extreme, I have found workkampers riding a golf cart through the park a few times a night is very comforting to the visitor and is a reasonable deterrent to crimes.
- Have a relationship with local law enforcement and fire officials. Invite them into your area. Make them feel welcome when they cruise through your park. Give them the first shot at security during special events. Throw a party for them. Discount your rates or donate use of your park to these public servants for their birthday parties, etc. They will love you and be more protective of you. And when you need them, they will be rapid responders.
- Lighting is important. This is a tricky design issue for parks. Many "night sky" lighting regulations have negated adequate lighting within a park. However, lighting experts have made much progress in combining the needs of visitors to enjoy the stars in the evening and to be safe at night.
These are a few hints to making your park or resort a safer and more secure place to be. Be alert to the consumer needs in this area, and you will help build customers for life.
Bud Surles' Consulting Group provides planning, design and development services for visionary land owners and developers desiring first class utilization of their land. With over 30 years experience, Surles has won national recognition for his management, design, development and leadership accomplishments and offers knowledge and expertise in developing resorts across the nation. Check www.budsurles.com for more information.