Don’t wait for the snow to start falling to begin your preparations for severe winter weather! [bctt tweet=”While it can be pretty, a winter storm can cause damage to your building, inventory and can disrupt business operations.” username=”FidellaPlus”] Snow, sleet, hail and cold temperatures can all wreak havoc on your building and business. Simple preventative measures can help your business be prepared for a severe winter storm and mitigate the amount of damage and loss.
Follow these preventative measures to be fully prepared for any severe weather that comes your way:
Find out how strong your roof is and its capacity for snow. Heavy snowfall may result in roof collapse. Before winter or a scheduled snow fall is a good time to have your roof inspected to find out if can withstand the snow falls that are expected. A structural engineer will determine how much snow your roof can withstand, and can give you tips to improve roof strength. Following heavy or repeated snow, you may have to remove snow from your roof in order to reduce the chance of a roof collapse. Snow removal equipment meant for pavement should never be used on the roof since they can damage the roof cover system. For safe removal use specific roof snow removal equipment or hire a snow removal contractor.
Inspect gutters. Heavy snow or ice can cause gutters to weaken, sag and break away for a building. Make sure gutters are free of debris, leaves and branches. These can trap snow and ice on the gutters which may cause them to break or detach and increase the risk of water damage. The most effective way to clear gutters is to use a specific tool created to clean gutters which will greatly reduce the labor involved. Gutters should be re-inspected before every scheduled storm
Take action to prevent Ice Dams. Ice dams are ridges of ice that form at the edge of a roof or around drains and prevent melting snow from draining off the roof. The water that backs up behind this “dam” can leak into the building and cause damage to walls, ceilings, insulation and other areas. Business owners should periodically inspect the roof drainage system for proper flow including drains, scuppers, gutters and down spouts to minimize any obstructions that can lead to ice dams.
Protect pipes against freezing. Frozen/burst pipes are the leading cause of property damage from winter weather. Did you know a quarter of a million properties experience water claims as a result of freezing pipes and the average claim for burst pipes is $10,000? Water expands as it freezes, placing substantial pressure on, and weakening, the pipe material. While prevention of freezing pipes requires careful attention to temperature and water flow throughout the winter, actions taken in the off-season can reduce the likelihood of problems and make monitoring during the winter easier. A small crack in a pipe can spill 250 gallons of water per day and destroy floors, walls, appliances, furniture and precious or personal items before the leak is fixed. For information on how to prevent pipes from freezing read here.
Monitor fire sprinkler systems. Indoor and outdoor fire protection sprinkler systems should be monitored by a constantly attended central station to provide early detection of a sprinkler pipe rupture due to freezing.
Create a snow removal plan. To keep your business operating after a major winter storm, it is important to provide safe access for employees, customers, and suppliers. Shovels, plows, and snowplows are great for entrances, sidewalks and driveways, but snow removal equipment and any outside service contracts should be in place prior to the first snowfall. If you are hiring an outside contractor look for an established, licensed and bonded professional who has current coverage for Liability and Worker’s Compensation Insurance.
Have salt and sand ready BEFORE a storm- Failing to quickly address ice buildup could mean a costly and dangerous mistake. Untreated ice creates a slippery layer that is unsafe for tenants, hard to see, and progressively harder to clear as it thickens during sustained cold temperatures. Avoid this risk altogether by having someone at the ready to put down salt and sand on walkways, parking lots, common areas, and steps to make sure that your property stays clear of heavy ice. Order your salt and sand BEFORE a storm is announced as shortages can occur.
Have good entrance mats- Did you know 80 percent of the dirt found in buildings such as offices and shopping spaces was tracked in on people’s shoes? The cost to remove dirt from floors can be pricey especially if it is ground into carpeting. A simple fix is to invest in mats to place both outside and inside entrances and exits. A good guide is that people entering should have three steps on a mat with each foot. The mats should give a little traction and should be rubber underneath to alleviate potential slip hazards. (Thanks Service Master!)
Plan for alternative power supplies. Extended power outages that resulted in food spoilage, interruptions of other critical business functions, and often the loss of customers can cause severe economic loss. In addition, this can place your tenants in danger. Permanent or portable generators can help alleviate this issue and enable businesses to continue operating some or all of their electronic equipment. This will minimize down time due to power loss.
Ensure Appropriate Lighting- Installing lighting to high-traffic locations throughout your commercial property. The better your visitors can see while navigating your property, the easier it will be for them to avoid any potential hazards. Adding enhanced lighting to all main entrances, walkways, stairs, and parking lots can add an additional level of property-wide safety and security. In addition, this can prevent trips and falls, which are among the most frequent causes of loss.
Create a business continuity plan. Business continuity planning can help you to avoid shutting down or slowing down your operations in case of a severe storm. It is essential to plan for business disruptions before they occur. Now is the best time to conduct tests to ensure that any unexpected challenges are dealt with before a major storm shuts down your office. This includes:
- Make plans now on how you will notify employees of building closures.
- If employees are able to work from home, measures should be taken to ensure that they will have access to all the resources necessary for performing their daily tasks.
Contact Fidella Insurance Agency to ensure that you are properly covered for all winter weather hazards.