Is it just us or does it seem like every year, more extreme weather conditions arise? Particularly in winter! There seem to be higher and higher accumulations of snow and ice every time the colder months roll around. Since severe winters are inevitable in numerous locations, it’s best for business owners to kick safety precautions into gear before the weather turns colder. It is crucial to avoid common winter risks whenever possible.
Specially compiled for business owners, we’ve put together the most predictable risks you will face this winter and how to prepare your business for protection against them. Above all else, it’s crucial to have the right kind of insurance policies in place, and enough coverage, just in case.
Interruptions in Business
Regardless of your industry, a variety of scenarios should be included in your business continuity plan:
- Post a list of important contacts: Insurance agents, owners or renters, municipal energy agencies, HVAC professionals, electricians, etc.
- In case you need to close your building, have a plan to redirect answering systems and phones.
- To figure out how employees will be informed, create a communication plan. Make sure all contact information for employees is up to date.
- To ensure clear expectations upfront, a telecommuting policy should be created if your employees can work from home. Confirm they have all necessities like the right software access and the ability to work both online and offline.
To prevent damage to your building this winter:
- The weight of snow can break branches. Near walkways and buildings have a tree trimmer clear away hanging limb.
- Remove debris from any gutters. Blow off or rake debris and leaves from flat roofs.
- For any signs of stress or irregularities, have a roofing contractor inspect the flashing and look for loose shingles.
When the Power Goes Out, Then What?
With snow and ice frequently causing downed wires, it’s just a matter of time before your power goes out this winter. To prepare for it, consider the following:
- Invest in surge protectors to prevent damage to equipment during a power surge/outage.
- Let your employees know there is an easy-to-reach emergency kit stocked with tools, cell phone chargers, first-aid supplies, flashlights, nonperishable food, and water.
- Be sure there is a working CO (carbon monoxide) detector because you also want to make sure your generator is ready and standing by.
Water Pipes Freeze Every Winter
While you might not be able to stop a water main from freezing outside, you can take a number of steps to make sure the pipes in your business’ building don’t freeze:
- Make sure the location of the water shut-off is known by at least a couple of staff members (who are on duty).
- If any wall or area runs the risk of hitting 55°F or less, the walls should be heavily insulated. Additionally, insulation should be wrapped around any water supply pipes/drain pipes. Some building owners go so far as to use heat cables. Whenever possible, keep your building at 65°F or better, even when no business is taking place inside.
- To inspect for leaks, cracks, etc., hire a licensed professional.
Falls, Slips, and Trips
How to avoid falls, slips, and trips:
- To indicate areas that need to be treated with ice, plowed, or shoveled, around the parking lot, walkways, and driveway, placed tall stakes.
- For snow removal outsourcing, ensure that the hired company can prove they have liability insurance and are experienced, reputable, etc.
- To help keep floors as safe as possible and avoid tracking in ice and snow, just inside doors, place water-absorbing, non-slip floor mats.
- Repair, as needed, any parking lot potholes, handrails, and outdoor steps.
- For sidewalks and steps, make sure you have adequate supplies of sand and/or ice melt, as well as enough snowblowers and shovels.
The Biggest Risk of All For Businesses in Winter
The biggest risk of all may be of insurance policies that are either inadequate or simply not enough coverage for the business. If you feel you have enough insurance, it never hurts to review your risks and run an analysis of your coverage. Should you require more insurance, speak to your broker or agent immediately. Don’t wait for the weather to get any colder!
You Couldn’t Avoid A Winter Risk. Now What? Talk To Stone Claims Group
Be it winter, summer, spring, or fall, in everything we do, we, at Stone Claims Group, apply unparalleled expertise. Our philosophy: By implementing ever-expanding investigative tools, constantly push claims investigation to new limits.