December 12, 2022

Preparing your business for winter weather

Reduce your company’s vulnerability to the cold season and its associated risks by taking action before and throughout the winter.

Winter weather such as dangerously low temperatures, strong winds, ice, sleet and freezing rain can cause significant damage and disruption to your business. We recommend that you take action to prepare for the unexpected by following these best practices throughout the winter season to minimize it’s impact on your facility, employees, and business continuity.

Watch the weather

  • Make sure to keep your eye on your local weather forecast so that you’re aware of any winter storm warnings. Getting out in front of a severe winter storm as much as possible will give you more time to prepare your property, business operations and employees as the adverse weather approaches.

Prepare the outside of the property

  • Relocate any materials or equipment that could be damaged by extreme cold and snow to a secure area.
  • Move any vehicles your business needs to a safe location (a covered garage, a secondary location, etc.), to help prevent any possible damage or becoming snowed in.
  • Inspect the exterior of your property for any cracks and exposed entry points that rodents or critters could get through.
  • Check the roof for any damaged supports and loose or missing materials, as these areas are vulnerable to snow loads, high winds and water penetration. If there are any issues after inspecting the roof, be sure to have them fixed by a professional as soon as possible.
  • Arrange for a qualified and insured contractor to remove drifts and excessive snow around your property, especially if you have a parking lot.
  • Salt the sidewalks located on your property before and after any expected precipitation to prevent ice from forming and causing slippery situations. Placing non-slip mats in front of entrances is also a good idea as it can help further prevent slipping as customers and employees enter and exit your business property.

Prepare the inside of the property

  • Consider buying a generator to prepare for the possibility of a power loss and to help reduce business disruption. If you’re using a portable generator, never keep it indoors – they produce high levels of carbon monoxide and could cause harm to those inside.
  • Replace any smoke detectors or fire extinguishers older than 10 years.
  • Test all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they work.
  • If you have a furnace, have it inspected annually by a qualified HVAC technician and make sure that all gas vents are clear of any debris.
  • Prevent frozen pipes by insulating areas that aren’t heated, such as garages, basements and crawlspaces. Wrap exposed pipes with foam or rubber sleeves or fiberglass insulation to keep them from freezing.
  • Shield equipment and inventory that is located directly below susceptible frozen pipes with water-resistant coverings.

Maintain Clear Communication

  • Communicate with your employees. Preparing your business for a winter disaster starts with having a predetermined way to let your team know if the business will be closed due to weather.
  • Let customers know if and when you’re closing by use social media channels to relay that information. If you have a store-front, make sure to post a sign notifying your customers of your closing as well.
  • Consider what things you rely on the mail service to provide. Contact whoever is sending your important documents to ensure that mail interruptions will not cause a business disaster.
  • Assemble a team of professional contacts you can call when you need help, including a building inspector, electrician, snow removal team and a professional structural engineer to assess any damages caused by snow load.

Keep in mind that your insurance will protect you from unpredictable events that may occur as a result of the harsh winter weather, however it may not cover general wear and tear that occurs over time. Speak to your broker to find out what coverage your business has heading into the snowy season.

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