Infographic: Can your organization survive a Wildfire?
Update On Oregon Fires 7/19/2018: At least 163 wildfires were detected in the state after 2,300 lightning strikes peppered the area since Friday. By Wednesday morning the numbers have settled down to 47 fires that have burned over 22,000 acres, according to the Department of Forestry Wednesday morning. However since those numbers were released the Substation Fire (see below) has been mapped at 36,000 acres. Dozens of fires are burning in the southwest corner of the state on the Umpqua, Rogue River, Winema, and Siskiyou National Forests. (Wildfire Today)
- Oregon Department of Forestry
- National Interagency Fire Center
- United States Department of Agriculture – Forest Service
The largest wildfire of 2018 was 90 percent contained as of July 16th, according to officials. The Spring Creek Fire in Colorado burned 108,045 acres and destroyed 141 homes and properties, making it the third largest in state history. Although the fire is nearly contained, hazards still remain. According to Forest Service officials,
“The aftermath of the wildfires will pose hazards for years to come because hills and mountain sides are stripped of vegetation. Fire can destroy roads and homes while leaving communities downstream of burn areas at risk of flooding and rock slides.”
“Everyone near and downstream from the burned areas should remain alert and stay updated on weather conditions that may result in heavy rains over the burn scars,” according to a Forest Service report. “Flash flooding may occur quickly during heavy rain.”
As per the National Interagency Fire Center, on a scale of 1-5, the U.S. is under a National Preparedness Level 3. In addition to Colorado, 12 other states are currently reporting large wildfires.
Wildfires not only destroy family homes, but they also negatively impact organizations. The Firestorm 7th Edition Crisis Event Impact Management Report indicated businesses spent an average of 445 days in business resumption mode following a wildfire. Additionally, the average financial loss was more than $1 million.
If you find you must evacuate your home or business due to a wildfire:
Know your evacuation routes; plan your transportation and a place to stay. To ensure you will be able to act quickly should you need to evacuate, you need to plan ahead and help train employees to think ahead. You also must prepare for employees who are unable to get to the workplace, or to return to the workplace for an extended period of time after the event is over.
Know your community’s local evacuation plan and identify several escape routes for your location in case roads are blocked; include plans to evacuate people with disabilities and others with access or functional needs, as well as pets, service animals, and livestock.
If you will evacuate by car, keep your car fueled and in good condition. Keep emergency supplies and a change of clothes in your car.
If you will need to share transportation, make arrangements now. If you will need to use public transportation, including para-transit, contact your local government emergency management agency to ask how an evacuation will work, how you will get current information during an evacuation, the location of staging areas, and other information.
If you need to relocate for an extended period of time, identify a place away from home where you could go if you had to leave. Consider family or friends who live outside of the local area.
If you have pets and plan to go to a shelter, call to inquire whether it can accommodate pets. Shelters will accept service animals.
Work closely with your property management company, if one is involved, to know the basics of protecting your business.
If you are a business owner, check your insurance coverage and keep detailed records of business activity that is negatively affected due to the wildfire event. Keep a list of extra expenses during the interruption. Prepare records to show the income from the business both before and after the loss.
Alternate Work Options
Alternative work-sites must be dynamic and established prior to an event. A dynamic recovery site provides employees multiple locations to work from; for example, a Regus location or a national hotel chain. The recovery site(s) should be located far enough away to provide safety from the crisis event.
Ensure the recovery worksites are equipped with a secure internet connection. Train your employees to avoid using open internet connections – even if working from home – to mitigate cyber breach exposure.
Is Remote Working Feasible?
In a recent Firestorm webinar, 68 percent of registrants indicated they could continue operations remotely if struck by a natural disaster.
Even if VPNs are established and employees are trained to work remote, ask these questions:
- Is working from home feasible if your employee’s home has burned down?
- Is working from home feasible if the organization is a healthcare facility?
- Is working from home feasible if your employees are concerned about the health and welfare of their families?
- Is working from home feasible if your employees’ priorities are cleaning and repairing their homes?
- Is working from home feasible if cable and electricity are out?
- Is working from home feasible if your employees’ homes are flooded?
Thinking you’re ready for a significant wildfire or natural disaster by saying, ‘we have services in the cloud, we have a VPN,’ are forms of disaster denial.
Do not allow your organization or people to fall victim to disaster denial.
What are your organization’s disaster checklists? Download a Firestorm brief on Workplace Recovery to view checklist examples that will provide an idea of factors to consider when creating a business disaster recovery plan.