In the U.S., September is usually the national disaster preparedness month. Throughout the month, the government informs citizens on the importance of preparing for unforeseen disasters. For residents of Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, this is a particularly important month because California is prone to wildfires. Even worse, California’s wildfire season has been getting longer, leading to bigger and more intense wildfires. To date, 7003 wildfires have been recorded in California, consuming more than 1,926,123 acres of land, causing a great number of bodily injuries and property loss. Therefore, if you live in a fire-prone area in California, you should use this month to review and update your disaster preparedness plan.
Here are some tips to get you started:
Recognize Wildfire Alerts
The National Weather Service is responsible for issuing fire alerts and Red Flag Warnings to fire departments across the country. These warnings and updates are important because they allow you to take proactive measures to fireproof your home and business. With this in mind, use the disaster preparedness month to learn about the different fire alerts and warnings, as well as how to respond to them. Moreover, if you want to receive real-time alerts from the National Weather Service, download and install the FEMA app on your mobile device.
Fireproof Your Premises
Fireproofing your business premises can significantly reduce the potential damage, allowing your business to recover from a wildfire incident faster. Some of the measures you can take to fireproof your premises include, among others, cutting the lawn, clearing dry leaves and vegetation and installing fire-resistant shutters, and installing non-combustible awnings. Make sure that you also have enough fire extinguishers as well as an outdoor source of water. Finally, create a fire-resistant zone within your premises where your staff can gather for safety in case of a wildfire.
Create an Evacuation Plan
A feasible evacuation plan can come in handy in case the wildfire jeopardizes safety in your business. In your plan, ensure you include safer grounds that you and your employees can escape to, as well as means of transport. Don’t forget to identify means of moving some of your high-value belongings if possible.
Review Important Business Documents
A wildfire can cause your business to suffer huge losses, causing you to either shut down your business permanently or rebuild it from scratch. Keeping this in mind, September is a good time to review your disaster insurance coverage needs and update your policies accordingly. Remember, your business insurance documents are among the most important items to protect from a disaster. Therefore, make copies of your insurance documents and store digital versions of the same on your email or online file-sharing platforms such as OneDrive or Dropbox. Other important business documents to protect include, among others, business permits, contract agreements, personal documents, and employee documents.
Gather Essential Supplies
During a wildfire, ensure you have essential supplies at hand to avoid going out unnecessarily. For instance, you may need medications, masks, and disinfectants to protect your staff. Typically, stocking the right supplies can also help reduce the burden on hospitals and urgent care centers.
Follow Directives from the Authorities
Like earlier said, the National Weather Service provides updates throughout natural disasters to ensure that people take the right measures. Therefore, ensure you follow all directives provided to keep your staff safe. For instance, if you’ve evacuated your staff to safer grounds, do not let them return unless the authorities declare that it’s safe.
Preparing for Landslides
Wildfires can destroy vegetation and soil, causing an increased run-off following heavy rains or rapid snowmelt. These can, in turn, result in massive landslides in the affected areas, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. This means that even as you prepare for wildfires, remember to prepare for the aftermath, including landslides. Here are tips to prepare your business for landslides: –
Get Your Property Inspected
The strength of your business buildings can determine the extent of the damage. To prevent or reduce the effects of a landslide, consider asking a professional to inspect your premises and gauge your building’s strength. Then, depending on what the inspection report reveals, reinforce your property to make it more resistant to earth movement.
Watch out for Threats
Slow-moving landslides can pose a danger to your business property. As such, watch out for signs such as breaking of utility lines, tilting or moving of trees and fences, cracking of tiles, or stairs pulling away from the building. Also, have a feasible evacuation plan in place just in case a landslide makes your premises inhabitable.
Sign up for Local Alerts
Follow updates from the National Weather Service and check alerts from your locality. Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties have alert programs aimed at delivering signals to citizens in case of danger. There are opt-in portals through which you can register and provide your contact information.
Recovering from Disaster
Regardless of your disaster preparedness, your business may still suffer some losses following a wildfire or other major disaster. In such cases, inform the local emergency authorities about your situation and ask for necessary assistance, in case you need any. Next, contact your insurance provider to file a claim. Take note that recovering from a natural disaster may take time, and hence, stay patient even as you resume operations.
To protect your business from unforeseen catastrophes such as wildfires and landslides, take proactive measures in the disaster preparedness month, including purchasing the right business insurance coverage. For more guidance on growing your own business, contact the Economic Development Collaborative. Conveniently located in Camarillo, California, we’re here to help.