Wildfire season: Business continuity tips

As the wildfire season enters its peak, International SOS is advising organisations on the preparations that will best protect their people and ensure business continuity through to October.

In the US, before the start of the season, 3.9 million acres burned between January and June 2022 -- nearly 2.3 times the average across the country during those months. The impact of climate change, human factors, fire suppression and winds are worsening wildfire concerns in western, southwestern and eastern regions of the US, and the threat of wildfires is only set to increase as more people live in and around forests, grasslands, and other natural areas.

“Wildfires hold a major threat to businesses on the ground and business travellers,” said Tyler Hosford, regional security manager of International SOS. “It’s important for organisations to have a plan in place ahead of an emergency. Not only is a plan key for business continuity, but also for the health and safety of employees, travellers and their families.”

As a result of the pandemic, businesses have a better understanding of the value in preparation and communication during a crisis. International SOS says wildfires should be treated with the same vigilance.

Dr Myles Druckman, global medical director of International SOS, explained: “Organisations should be aware of the top considerations during this time which include air quality concerns, overstretched local and national emergency services, access to shelters, need for stand-fast alternatives and financial constraints at all levels - all which are critical to ensuring the safety of staff.”

Best practice tips for wildfire preparedness (Source: International SOS)

1. Ahead of a wildfire, you should prepare your property. Remove flammable materials and vegetation in a 30-foot radius of structures. Outdoor furniture should be brought inside or placed in swimming pools. Close all windows and doors and leave them unlocked. Take down any drapes and curtains; consider fire-resistant window coverings. Shut off sprinklers and running water to preserve critical water pressure. Turn off gas and electricity supply to minimise residual damage.

2. Consider evacuation options. Identify potential alternative accommodations in case evacuation is necessary, such as friends’ or relatives’ homes in other towns, public shelters or hotels. Ensure you know how to reach your pre-identified accommodation and be ready to take alternative routes if major roads are disrupted. Have a disaster plan in place, including meeting locations and communication plans, accounting for potential power disruption. Keep an emergency supply kit ready. Plan multiple evacuation routes.

3. Know who to contact. Ensure you save contact numbers of the police/emergency services, your nearest assistance centre and other local numbers that could be helpful in an emergency. Write down these details in the event that your phone runs out of power and is unable to be recharged. Designate an out-of-area contact person in case of group separation.

    Share Story:


Cyber risk in the transportation industry
The connected nature of the transport and logistics industries makes them an attractive target for hackers, with potentially disruptive and costly consequences. Between June 2020 and June 2021, the transportation industry saw an 186% increase in weekly ransomware attacks. At the same time, regulations and cyber security standards are lacking – creating weak postures across the board. This podcast explores the key risks. Published April 2022.

Political risk: A fresh perspective
CIR’s editor, Deborah Ritchie speaks with head of PCS at Verisk, Tom Johansmeyer about the confluence of political, nat cat and pandemic risks in a world that is becoming an increasingly risky place in which to do business. Published February 2022.