Depending on where you live, it can feel like wildfire season is never too far away. Wildfires cost billions of dollars to fight and recover from annually, and for businesses, the impacts of a wildfire can be catastrophic. If you're a business owner, learning how to prepare for a wildfire is absolutely vital. Protect what you've worked so hard to build with these wildfire preparation tips from the experts at ServiceMaster Restore®.
Know Your Wildfire Season
Preparing for a wildfire depends in part on knowing the specific conditions and risks in your location. While a fire caused by negligence, disrepair or accidents can occur anytime of year, nature's wildfire cycles are thankfully a little easier to predict. Be extra-vigilant in your prep each year as wildfire season approaches:
- Southeast and Texas: early spring
- Northeast and Southwest: late spring
- Pacific Northwest and Northern California: summer
- Southern California: fall
Your Year-Round Prep
- Create defensible space. Defensible space, or firescaping, is a method of planning your lot's layout and landscaping so that if fire strikes, you have strategic advantages. Keep plants thinned and well irrigated. Make sure firefighters can easily move around your building if needed.
- Manage big, open areas. Wind can drive wildfire under decks, into alleys, into attics or crawlspaces, or toward other big spaces on your lot. A simple, economical way to combat this is with mesh screens, especially if you can find removable ones. That way, you can access areas you need for business and firefighters can get in if they have to.
- Keep your structure clear. This means cleaning roofs and gutters, alleys, porches or decks, and the perimeter of your building. It can be worth it to help a neighbor out if you see they're accumulating debris, too. Remember that everyone benefits when everyone knows how to prepare for a wildfire, and pitch in as needed. You might end up saving both your businesses.
- Have a continuity plan. It may not be business as usual, but determine if you'll be able to keep working while any smoke and fire damage to your property is repaired. Is there alternate workspace you can use in an emergency? How will you handle clients and vendors, communications, supplies, and other daily matters? Make a plan now, so you don't lose time and money to poor planning later.
When Wildfire Approaches
You'll never be 100 percent ready for wildfire, but with a good plan made in advance, you can act quickly, protect your business, and get yourself to a safe location as soon as possible if a fire does strike.
- Save your important documents. Important business papers to preserve could include incorporation or tax documentation, contracts, and sensitive data or information. Take your computer backups home at night or, better yet, save them to the cloud. Keep hard copies in one location so you can grab them and go.
- Contact customers. Be ready to keep in touch with customers or clients. Let them know that your business is prepared in the event of a wildfire, and communicate quickly in the wake of one. Reassure them that you're doing everything possible to keep things running smoothly.
- Keep employees safe. Let your employees know how to communicate and react if a wildfire approaches. Having a plan for your business can also ensure peace of mind for employees. Above all, make sure your plan accounts for employee safety during a wildfire.
Every business owner hopes that wildfire season leaves them unscathed, but nature's unpredictability requires careful planning. Follow these tips to stay prepared, and if your business does suffer damage from a wildfire, contact the industry-leading professionals at ServiceMaster Restore to learn how we can help you get back to business as soon as possible.