Keep Your Business Safe!

Once you’ve invested in a business, you’ll want to keep it safe in all kinds of different ways. When most people think of safety, they think of locks and security alarms, but this is only the beginning. Safety can mean everything from securing doors and windows to putting a sensor on your automatic sprinkler when it freezes.

Let’s start with access to your building. One of the best things you can do to dissuade those who prefer to work under the cover of darkness is to make sure you have adequate lighting. Exterior lights around entrances, in parking lots, and near other access points makes it difficult for people to go unnoticed. It’s also wise to leave some interior lights on after everyone leaves, so police officers can peer in and get a look at what’s happening.

As the weather changes, it’s important to check to make sure doors close property. Wood expands and contracts as temperatures fluctuate, and so do commercial aluminum doors. Make sure you hear that reassuring click when you close the door to leave for the night. And don’t leave windows open, even a crack. Depending on the type of window, a crack is all you need to move a window and lift it out of its track. There are wonderful little gizmos you can purchase for less than a dollar to secure sliding glass windows from the inside, if you really want to leave windows open overnight.

While windows and doors are the most common ways to enter a building, roofs can sometimes provide access into the attic and then into the building. Be sure any opening large enough for a person to get through are secured.

Now that no unauthorized people can get in, it’s time to make sure everyone can get out if they need to. Be sure fire exits are clearly marked and unobstructed, and stairways are well maintained.

As people exit the building, emergency or no, you’ll want safe walkways. If roots have created tripping hazards, fix them. If you have a sprinkler that sends water cascading over the concrete, be sure you have a sensor installed so the sprinkler does not turn on when temperatures drop below freezing: slipping on an icy sidewalk is embarrassing at best and can cause terrible injury at worst. I’ve often thought sprinklers activated by motion sensors could be a wonderful deterrent to pesky critters, human and otherwise.

In your parking area, to minimize the hassle of unwanted campers, be sure to post Customer Only and Employee Only parking signs. If you have private parking areas without signage, it can be cumbersome to remove an unwelcome guest.

If you are located in the city of Ukiah and have questions about how to make your business safer, the Ukiah Police Department offers safety assessments. A few months ago, they helped a local business by recommending landscaping changes, lighting changes, additional signage and the removal of an old pay phone, increasing visibility and discouraging loitering. Calls for police service dropped from six or seven per day to one or two per week, making everyone except the aggressive panhandlers happy.

While you can do a lot to create a safe environment, you cannot mitigate all risk. If you are interested in learning self-defense techniques or providing a class for your employees, Louis Maldonado at Maldonado Martial Arts and Fitness provides group classes for people of all ages and physical abilities. He’s provided classes for librarians, nurses, and others. It’s something to think about.

This is the part of my column where I usually request suggestions for future topics to write about, offering a Schat’s Bakery gift card in return. Since recommendations have been a little skimpy lately, I’m upping the gift card amount to $10.00. Send me an idea for a column, and if I use it, the gift card is yours!

If you have questions about real estate or property management, please contact me at or visit If you’d like to read previous articles, visit my blog at Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 40 years.

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