A look into the impact of location, proper planning, safety, emergency preparedness, & de-escalation for small businesses and their employees.


  • 98% of British Columbia businesses are small sector businesses.
  • BC ranks #1 in the country for small business per capita. That’s 84.2 businesses per 1,000 people!
  • Over 38% of self-employed residents in BC are women.
  • BC has the second highest rate of women led businesses in Canada.
  • The service industry accounts for more than 75% of British Columbia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). 
  • Small businesses employ over 1 million people in BC alone.
  • In 2011, small businesses provided 32% of all wages paid to British Columbia workers.


Before deciding to buy or lease a business space:

  • Research the areas’ crime rates
  • Check to see how visible the building is from nearby roadway/sidewalks, other buildings, etc.
  • Layout & location of the building

Ask yourself:
– Can emergency services find me/see my business address/markings?
– Can customers find my location without a map?
– Do customers know where the entrance is?
– Can you see the parking lot from inside your business and vice versa?
– Do staff feel safe working late or getting to their vehicles (potentially alone)?

If your business collects payments (including cash payments) or is holding important documents, invest in a high quality safe.

  • Ensure only a few necessary employees know the combination
  • Consider changing the combination on a regular basis – minimizes the risk of internal theft

No matter what fire prevention methods you use, there is still a chance that a fire could break out

  • Fire alarms signal when a fire occurs, giving everyone in the business the most time possible to get out
  • sprinkler system helps protect your physical assets
  • Ensure fire extinguishers are inspected & up-to-date
  • Ensure employees know how & when to use the type of fire extinguishers your business uses
  • Use the acronym PASS to easily remember how to use an extinguisher

P = Pull the pin
A = Aim at the base of the fire
S = Squeeze the lever
S = Sweep side to side

Make sure to establish emergency exits and a clear escape route

  • For the people (employees & customers) in your business at the time of an emergency event
  • Ensure your staff are aware of all entrances and exits for your business
  • Ensure staff are aware of emergency procedures, what different alarm sounds mean, and muster point(s)

Windows and doors should be fully shut and locked. You may consider additional protective measures such as:

  • bars over the windows
  • Cage preventing doors and windows from being broken


Consider creating formally documented plans for handling threats, including natural disasters, physical and criminal threats to staff.

  • Keep these plans in an employee accessible location, and make sure revising the plans are part of your training process
  • Rehearse plans so they become ingrained and easy to follow
  • Consider talking to staff about the importance of and techniques used in de-escalation when it comes to potential escalating or threatening situations occuring while


De-escalation is a method to prevent potential violence where individuals are encouraged to use purposeful actions, verbal communication, body language, and other techniques to calm a potentially dangerous situation.


1. Be Empathetic & Non Judgmental
– Do not dismiss the feelings of person in distress
– Respect others feelings (if you think they are justified or not)
– Present genuine concern & willingness to understand

2.  Respect Personal Space 
– Be aware of your position, posture, & proximity when interacting
– Personal space shows respect, keeps you safer, decreases anxiety
– Explain what you’re doing if you must enter someone’s personal space to provide care
– Stand 1.5-3 feet away from person who is escalating if possible

3. Use Non-Threatening Nonverbals 
– The more distressed someone is, the less they hear your words
– Be mindful of gestures, facial expressions, movements, & tone of voice
– neutral tone and body language helps diffuse a situation
– Use active listening skills (nodding, open body language or mirroring, be attentive)

4. Keep your Emotional Brain in Check – Avoid Overreacting 
– Remain calm, rational, & professional
– How you respond to behaviour has a direct effect on whether a situation escalates or defuses
– Thinking positive helps maintain your rationality and calm – tell yourself “I can handle this”, “I know what to do”

5. Focus on Feelings 
– Watch and listen for a person’s real message (how they feel is at the heart of the matter)
– Use supportive words/phrases like “that must be scary” to let person know you understand what’s happening

6. Ignore Challenging Questions 
– When a person challenges your authority, redirect their attention to issue at hand
– Ignore the challenge, not the person
– Bring persons focus back to how you can work together to resolve situation

7. Set Limits 
– Give person respectful, simple, & enforceable limits
– Offer polite and respectful choices & consequences
– Avoid obvious lies and/or promising outcomes you do not have control over

8. Choose Wisely What You Insist Upon 
– Be thoughtful about deciding which rules are negotiable and which are not
– If you can offer person options/flexibility, you may be able to avoid unnecessary conflict

9. Allow Silence for Reflection – The Tactical Pause 
– Silence allows person to reflect on what’s happening and how they should proceed
– Provides everyone involved a brief moment to think
– Silence is a powerful communication tool

10. Allow Time for Decisions 
– When people are upset they may not think clearly
– A person’s stress rises when they feel rushed


Safety is the Highest priority: 
– Maintain a safe distance & avoid being alone with a person who is combative or potentially violent
– If there is imminent risk of violence, remove yourself from the situation and seek safety

Know Your Limits:
– Some people may be more adept at applying de-escalation techniques than others
– Know your vulnerabilities & tendencies
– Recognize that sometimes the best intervention is knowing when to seek additional help

Be aware of your situation: 
– other people around
– objects (chairs, tables, items on a table)
– Exits and openings

Make personal connections:
– Something simple like “what’s your name?” makes dialogue more personal

Know the Signs of Conflict Escalation:
– Person is clenching their fist or jaw
– Sudden change in body language or tone
– Pacing & fidgeting
– ‘Rooster Stance’ – chest protruding out more, arms away from body
– Disruptive behaviours – yelling, bullying, defying or refusing to comply with rules


make sure you change up your routine from time to time.

  • Many criminals will monitor businesses for days or even weeks in advance of an attempted crime
  • Criminals take note of when businesses are closed or least populated
  • Changing your routine even slightly could throw them off or force them to seek an easier, more predictable target
  • Ensure staff know never to give out a staff members schedule to non-employees or give information about where employees are in their free-time


Do not make the mistake of believing your business is invulnerable or that it is unlikely to be targeted. 

  • The majority of the listed business protection strategies are inexpensive and relatively easy to implement.
  • Even a small monetary and time invested in security and protection has the potential to ward off an abundance of active threats to your business and its assets.
  • Investing in protection procedures/plans gives your business a backup plan in case you do become a victim.

Keeping all employees knowledgeable about your business’s BYOD policy, cybersecurity best practices, responses to physical threats, fire suppression procedures, emergency exits, and de-escalation tactics means that they have the proper tools and skills to effectively protect themselves and your business, regardless of its size or location.

  • As an employer/owner, personally knowing and practicing these tips assures staff that you know and care about not only your business, but your employees and their safety.
  • This in turn boosts company morale, creates a stronger/better relationship between you and your employees, and creates better employee buy in for wanting to keep the business and workplace secure for everyone (including customers).


Police Recover Over $100K in Cash and Stolen Goods from Theft Ring in Victoria 

– Two search warrants were executed at separate Victoria residences on February 23
– Police found ~$94,000 in stolen new retail merchandise, $19,000 in cash, 2.5 kilograms of drugs (as well as a security tag remover and money counter)
– Police figured out that the perpetrators would use one centralized phone number to sell stolen goods by having the stolen goods ‘appraised’ over the phone and then traded for drugs
– The individuals involved created lists of items they wanted stolen and passed them on to the people stealing
*investigation ongoing

Woman Arrested for Arson After String of Fired Set in Port Alberni Wednesday

– On March 29th fire crews attended a total of 3 grass/brush, 1 stump, and 1 dumpster fires set between 6 and 9pm (5 total fires were set)
– A woman in her 30s who witnesses observed at the scene of two fires was arrested on March 29 and released the next day with strict conditions monitored by community corrections
– All fires have been deemed suspicious, but RCMP did not imply which fires they thought the woman was involved in
*Investigation ongoing

Woman Posing as Janitor Wanted in Series of ATM Thefts Across BC 

– According to Chilliwack RCMP, a woman is wanted on suspicion of stealing large amounts of cash from ATMs in banks across the Fraser Valley in July 2021
– Surveillance photos released by RCMP show the woman dressed as a janitor, complete with a a backpack-style vacuum cleaner
– Investigation led to the search of a Nanaimo home, where they recovered a large quantity of cash and high value items thought to be purchased through crime proceeds
– The woman is around 5 feet tall and is associate with a black pickup truck – neither of which have been identified at this time
*investigation ongoing