As wildfires become more prevalent—particularly in the Western U.S.—it’s important to include the threat of fire in your store’s disaster plan. Here are five ways to prepare your business for wildfires:
Have these items on hand at all times
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio (and extra batteries)
- First aid kit (including N95 masks)
- Extra storage for items normally left out of a safe
Determine how your financial records and data will be backed up
It could be argued that tax information, inventory records, and customer data are more important than the physical assets of your business during and after a disaster. After all, if you lose data that is not properly backed up, it’s essentially gone forever.
While it seems that everything can be backed up digitally today, it’s worth keeping physical copies of essential information on hand if you can’t access information located on a hard drive or in the cloud. And you could be facing a whole other disaster if your data gets compromised.
Lastly, time is of the essence when your property and inventory have been damaged. A good way to make sure an insurance claim is processed quickly — and the recovery process begins immediately — is by having vital information at your fingertips. With this in mind, keep any important paper documents in a fire-proof safe and create password-protected digital copies.
Have an evacuation plan
You may have to evacuate quickly in the event of a wildfire, so it’s important to know your evacuation routes and practice them with your staff. Find out from local officials what shelters are available (should they be needed) and be familiar with alternate routes and means of transportation.
You may also want to consider safe transport of your merchandise to and from a bank vault or storage facility ahead of the wildfire. A transportation company such as Malca-Amit can help. Jewelry businesses with a jewelers block policy through Jewelers Mutual Group can take advantage of these services with covered transit costs and coverage for your merchandise while at Malca-Amit facilities.
Create a list of key stakeholders to communicate with before, during and after
First and foremost, make sure every employee is in the know. Regularly updating phone numbers and emails will help ensure this. Also, appointing one person to coordinate updates will help avoid message confusion and keep everyone on the same page.
Next, determine the key parties that will help you recover from the damage. In addition to your insurance agent and insurance company, this includes: contractors, vendors, and other business partners.
You may be tempted to reach out to contractors right away. But be sure not to rush the process. You’ll want a clear head to make the best decisions and evaluate the estimates that come in.
Again, assigning a point-person to manage these relationships who reports back to your general communication manager can help messages be delivered accurately.
Have the right insurance coverage
Don’t assume you’ll be covered for any peril that threatens your business just because you have insurance. Some business owners find themselves paying extra out-of-pocket expenses after a claim is filed because they don’t have well-rounded coverage or have improper limits.
Asking yourself questions like these can help make sure you’re adequately covered if a disaster were to strike:
- Are my inventory figures up to date?
- Is my building and business personal property valued correctly?
- Could I be liable for damage to a neighbor’s property, too?
- Will I be covered for any amount of lost earnings during the time when my business is closed due to the disaster?
The best way to make sure you’re properly covered is to work with an agent that is an expert in jewelers block insurance.
For more loss prevention and security advice, check out A Jeweler’s Guide to 24/7 Security.
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