Keenan Blog

Get an Early Start to Prevent Fire, Wind, Quake and Flood Damage

March 27, 2019

The start of spring and the warmer weather it brings is when many of us dive into more thorough cleaning and taking care of outdoor maintenance tasks. Combining our “spring cleaning” with an eye towards reducing hazards you may face later in the year is a wise investment. Taking extra steps now could save you considerable time, expense and heartache.

Removal, repair and replacement of the things that can make fire, floods, fierce winds and even earthquakes worse can make your facility or home safer if disaster should strike. Since no one knows where or when the next calamity will occur, it’s important to stay ahead of preventive maintenance that helps mitigate impacts and lessen the risks of injury.

Removing the brush, weeds, trash and other flammable materials from around buildings helps create a defensible perimeter for fighting a fire. But it’s not just what’s on the ground…look at how overhanging trees could spread embers to structures and prune them away from roofs. Check to make sure dumpsters are being kept away from buildings and structures. Are any large limbs in danger of breaking off in a storm and crashing through windows or rooftops? Removal of debris covering drains and obstructing stormwater channels can make a big difference even with a moderate amount of rain. Finally, leaves, twigs and other junk that gets into vent grates, gutters and around eaves are another avenue for fire to enter the vulnerable parts of buildings if you don’t clear them out.

Repair the things that are designed to protect property – and people – when the weather gets bad. Making a general condition inspection of structural parts of your building or house is a good idea to start making your spring checklist. From the top down, check for flaws in the roofing, missing and damaged vent screens, cracks in the outer coatings of the walls and around windows, and signs that standing water is accumulating around foundations. In areas where freezing and thawing are frequent, pavement can suffer damage that worsens with every season as well as posing trip and fall hazards.

Replace anything that keeps heavy objects in place in adverse conditions. Supports and attachments of patio cover and awnings, mounts for air conditioning units and solar panels can deteriorate over time and should be regularly inspected. Replacing such damaged items could prevent serious injury or death from a falling or blown component. Replacement can also apply to trees and plants that are diseased, damaged or in danger of uprooting. One of the most common causes of storm related deaths is being struck by trees or large branches that break off them.

One final thing to consider as you handle your springtime maintenance is safe and secure storage. When you put your tools and equipment away, be sure they don’t become falling objects in their own right. Store any power equipment and gasoline they use properly to prevent accumulating fumes and fire. Watch how things are stacked in a garage or tool shed, and attach cabinets securely to the walls, so they don’t injure someone or damage vehicles if the earth starts shaking.

Considering prevention well ahead of a natural or man-made disaster could put your property and the people occupying it in a much safer place if something unfortunate comes to your area. Your advance preparation will help you and your community to be more resilient following a disastrous event.

About William M. Clayton, MS, CSRM, ARM-P, CPD
Bill Clayton joined the Keenan Loss Control team after 27 years in public service. Bill began his career in the U.S. Navy and served in combat in Vietnam and later served in Guam as a police officer, field supervisor, and U.S. Customs Inspector for the Joint Armed Forces Police Detachment. He’s had real-life experience as a first responder and emergency manager. His assignments included environmental safety officer and emergency manager, and nine years as the safety and loss control manager for a large school and community college risk management JPA.

Bill has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration, a Master of Science degree in Emergency Services Administration, is a Certified School Risk Manager (CSRM), and an Associate in Risk Management with a Public Entities (ARM-P) designation. Additionally, he’s earned the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) Professional Designation (CPD). His extensive Federal (FEMA & Homeland Security) and California State training and experience in risk and emergency management, makes him a subject-matter leader on the IMReady suite of services provided for public entity clients to help them in preparing for unexpected critical incidents and events.