Member Insights by John Horner, Core Developments
Remember the days where a snowstorm meant no school the following day? A gift that was usually delivered the day a big class project was due or if you really had it lucky, an exam. For a Business owner, those days are long gone. A snowstorm and other Winter Weather Risks wreak havoc for any business. Common winter threats include:
- Employee injuries and illnesses
- Property damage
- Power loss
- Communications disruption
- Compromised access to facilities
- Difficulty obtaining transportation & accidents
Anticipating poor Winter Weather and properly preparing your business for emergency situations are the keys to protecting your business, property and employees from winter weather risks. Where to start? It’s important to identify a few of the most common risks businesses face during winter months and understand how to best prepare for them.
Snow and Ice Accumulation
With winter comes snow, freezing temperatures, ice, wind, and an increase in slips, trips and falls. It’s inevitable. To avoid injuries (and lawsuits), remember to adequately salt and remove snow/ice from walkways, regularly; mark trouble spots, such as snow banks and slippery curbs, with caution tape; limit entrances to your building to ensure less hazardous conditions; and mop all entrances to prevent water accumulation.
The accumulation of snow and ice may also cause physical damage to your property. Depending on the amount of snow winter brings, the build up of ice and snow may be heavy, quickly adding a significant amount of stress to the roof of your building. To avoid roof collapses, snow and ice should be removed as soon as it is deemed safe to do so to relieve unnecessary stress from your roof. Ice dams build on the edges of your roof and prevent melting snow from draining off your roof – further increasing your risk of a collapsed roof. In preparation for winter, and prior to any storm, you should have the strength of your roof assessed, especially if there is concern it may not be able to handle the weight of winter’s snow.
With winter’s freezing temperatures may come frozen pipes. The pressure of frozen water in pipes and sprinkler systems is so great that in some cases it causes them to burst, resulting in extensive damage to your property. To avoid frozen and busted pipes, it’s important to properly insulate and seal pipes and vents to moderate the appropriate temperature for your building. If you plan to shut down or vacate your property over the holidays, it’s important to still moderate the temperature of your building or consider shutting off the water entirely to avoid frozen pipes in your absence.
Outdated Insurance Policies
Winter weather may greatly increase your need to call upon insurance providers. Is your business adequately protected against these winter weather risks? Proactively reviewing and updating your policies is critical to ensure that you are protected against property damage, business cessation due to weather, and injury claims.
The Lack of a Disaster Recovery Plan
Preparation for disasters such as those related to winter weather is key. Failing to prepare for such disasters may ruin your business. To best protect your business, property and employees from such disasters, it’s critical to formulate a comprehensive disaster recovery plan. If directions are clearly stated, your plan will dramatically reduce downtime and disruption to your business.
When formulating your disaster recovery plan, here are some important things to note:
- Back up sensitive company data and key business processes
- Instate clear instructions and responsibilities
- Set communication redundancies if there’s a communication breakdown
- Purchase a generator so that business may continue if there is a power outage
- If your business operates company vehicles, fill gas tanks in preparation of a storm
- Ensure all battery-powered devices have new batteries or solar chargers
Winter weather is unpredictable and has the potential to cause serious and long-lasting damage to your business. Protect your business by proactively preparing for any disaster.
Read How to Protect Your Business From Winter Weather Risks on Columbus Chamber of Commerce.
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