arson awareness week: preparing and protecting your business from arson
By: Eric Rosenberg
It's everyone's favorite time of the year: Arson Awareness Week!
Okay, so maybe Arson Awareness Week isn't as fun as Halloween or New Years, but it's a good reminder of the risks that you and your business face, and why it's important to protect your assets with adequate insurance.
During the COVID-19 crisis, many offices, warehouses and other buildings are left empty and unguarded, keeping us at home and business properties even more vulnerable to arson. Here are some steps you can take to keep your property safe and avoid the worst results of an arson attack.
Follow Common-Sense Fire Prevention Guidelines
While you may not have a full-time security guard to protect your property like larger businesses, that doesn't mean you can't take smart steps to guard your property from fires.
Always keep your building up to date with the latest fire codes. Even if not required, consider adding automatic fire sprinklers and a remotely monitored fire alarm system. Also, look into using flame-resistant materials and furniture, if you're able.
Secure Your Building When Unattended
It probably goes without saying, but your property should be locked up and secure when no one's there. Depending on the area and type of property, that could be as simple as a good deadbolt on the front door or something larger like a fence around the property.
Random acts of arson happen regularly. Keeping your property secure from uninvited after-hours guests could literally keep your business from going up in flames.
To keep an extra set of eyes on the place, you may want to install remote security cameras. You don't need an expensive system—some smart cameras can be monitored by your phone with no monthly recurring fee, though cloud backups of your footage usually require a subscription.
Make a Checklist for Long-Term Closures
If you are closing long-term for the coronavirus or any other reason, it's a good idea to make a "to-do" checklist so you don't forget common sources of accidental fires or arson. Consider adding items like:
- Turn off non-emergency lights;
- Unplug power strips and extension cords;
- Hide or lock away computers and valuables;
- Set fire and burglar alarm; and
- Lock all entrances and exits.
If you are not going to be in the office regularly for a while, that doesn't mean you shouldn't check in from time to time. If you're able to travel safely, consider setting up a schedule to go by at least every few days to take a peek and make sure your business is just as you left it.
Protect With Fire Insurance
It would be heartbreaking to drive up to your business for a regularly scheduled check-in only to find it in flames. Even with fire alarms and sprinklers, it is still possible to experience a major loss due to a fire.
Arson Awareness Week is an ideal time to look at your fire policy to make sure it's up to your needs. It should include coverage from accidental fires and acts of arson. Policies can include your physical building, its contents and even payments for lost use of your space and revenue.
If you aren't sure if your arson coverage is enough, contact a Westfield agent today to evaluate your needs and get advice on the right fire coverage for your unique business.
Don't Let Arson Harm Your Livelihood
Arson doesn't have to lead to financial ruin for you or your business. With the right strategy in place, you may be able to avoid arson to begin with. However, the unexpected does happen. So, if arson rears its ugly head, your business can be financially protected with quality fire insurance.
Eric Rosenberg is a freelance writer specializing in finance and investing. His writing work has appeared in Business Insider, Investopedia, Huffington Post, and many other outlets. Rosenberg also consults about financial management and small business solutions.