According to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), as of Aug. 23, 2022, 43,720 fires have already burned a total of 5,998,141 acres in the United States. This is above the 10-year average of 38,991 fires and the average acreage of 5,125,914.
The fire season continues to be steady with 20 large uncontained fires across the nation. These statistics far exceed what typically happens at this point in the year. And in fact, as climate change increasingly has a more significant impact, the concept of “disaster seasons” has broadened to a much longer timeframe.
What is defined as a wildfire?
A wildfire is defined as an uncontrolled fire that can rapidly burn acres of land – destroying everything in its path. Such an event has the potential to negatively impact your home or business in a variety of ways. Wildfires can threaten natural areas and communities; and can impact a variety of geographies. Preparation is key to reducing the impact of such an event on you and your business. Here, we’ll outline some of the steps you can take ahead of a wildfire to mitigate risk and keep your information as safe as possible.
Why wildfires start
Wildfires can happen at any time. And since as many as 90 percent of wildland fires in the United States are caused by people, according to the U.S. Department of Interior, the chances of one happening, especially in high temperatures and dry conditions, are high.
Human-caused fires most commonly result from campfires left unattended, the burning of debris, downed power lines, negligently discarded cigarettes, and intentional acts of arson. The remaining 10 percent are started by lightning or lava. Prolonged droughts and wind can also elevate the risk of wildfires that could cause serious issues for you and your business operations.
Navigating the Strategic Imperatives of Information Management
What you can do to protect your organization’s information ahead of a wildfire
The good news is that there are steps you can take now to better protect yourself and your important information ahead of a wildfire. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provides critical information to advise ahead of time when there’s an enhanced risk of a wildfire. Check their site regularly and subscribe to alerts if you’re in a higher risk zone.
Other precautionary steps you can take to protect and reinforce the safety of your teams and information include having an updated Business Continuity Plan (BCP) in place. This is important and should be considered your bible in the event of any disaster. It should consider the decision-making that would need to be made at local, regional, and corporate levels, and provide a blueprint for maintaining the protection of your teams, operations and information in any at-risk areas. Having such a plan in place helps to ensure the safety and security of your people, facilities, and critical assets at all times.
At Access, we prepare ahead of emergencies by regularly undergoing thorough reviews of readiness including assessing fire and smoke detection systems and running fire suppression and prevention system testing. We also complete facility assessments including roof inspections, grounds maintenance, and vehicle preparation. Ensuring the backup and failover systems are working properly and that a communication escalation plan is in place also ensures optimal readiness.
Keeping your teams safe
You can take steps ahead of time to help keep your team members safe ahead of a wildfire. To start, it is smart to review evacuation zones/routes with your teams, designate shelter locations, and ensure emergency action plans are familiar to all. We do this regularly at Access and have taken extra precautionary steps including enrolling in utility provider alert notification systems where available, conducting mock disaster and continuity plan testing with staff, and ensuring our disaster supply kits are well stocked and ready at a moment’s notice.
Enlisting help from partners
Partners, like Access, can help you fortify your protection efforts to minimize the impact of a wildfire on you and your business. In addition to providing expert guidance on business continuity planning, our highly secure offsite storage services provide security and protection of your physical records, while our scanning and digitization services support redundancy efforts and pave a path for easier collaboration and higher productivity.
If you have questions or would like to speak to an Access BCP expert, please contact us. To learn more about wildfire preparedness, download our wildfire preparedness brief or visit Access’ Business Continuity & Preparedness Hub for related resources and updates.