It’s only just begun to feel like fall, but it’s never too early to begin preparing your business for winter. Once the cold weather season begins, it will be imperative that you’ve made arrangements to protect your employees, customers, and property.
Now is the best time to start making the necessary preparations to address winter slips and falls on snow or ice, loss of heat and electricity, a roof collapse, and freeze-ups. Be sure to consider the following winter weather preparedness tips for your business:
Preparing for Winter Weather
Basic Preparations for Winter
- Update your Emergency Response Program to include appropriate response procedures for below-normal temperatures or extreme cold.
- Develop a list of internal emergency team members and key external emergency contacts, such as the gas company, electric company, city, county, and state emergency contacts, local hospitals, sprinkler contractor, HVAC contractor, and snow removal contractor.
- Ensure internal emergency team members know their responsibilities, such as monitoring weather forecasts.
- Put together an emergency kit of supplies, equipment, and tools including:
- First-aid kit
- Snow removal equipment
- Three-day supply of nonperishable food and water
- Flashlights and lanterns
- Weather band radio (battery or crank)
- Blankets and cold weather clothing
- Supply of common hand tools (screwdrivers, wrenches, knives, hammers)
- Tarpaulins, rope, clamps, etc.
- Ensure your facility has adequate supplies of snow removal equipment, such as snow blowers, shovels, and ice melting materials.
- Identify key emergency equipment such as gas valves, electrical equipment, fire hydrants, emergency exits, etc. Mark them with flags to ensure they are kept clear during a snow emergency.
Winter Slips and Falls
The most common accidents resulting from winter weather are slips and falls due to snow and ice. All areas of the facility inside and out must be maintained in a safe state to prevent slips and falls.
- Make arrangements for snow and ice removal. If you’re using an outside contractor, ensure proper contracts are in place and insurance requirements are met.
- Determine response criteria and timing to ensure snow or ice is removed before employees and customers arrive to the facility.
- Self-inspect parking lots, walkways, and entrance points into buildings. Document conditions throughout the day to ensure all walking surfaces, including emergency exits, are cleared of snow and ice.
- Provide nonskid mats and caution signs at building entrances.
Loss of Heat or Electricity/Freeze-Ups
- Service heating systems prior to the expected cold weather.
- Make necessary repairs to weather stripping and caulking around doors, windows, and air intakes.
- Make a list of vulnerable piping and areas that need to be inspected in case of extreme cold or power outages.
- Identify piping and equipment that may contain water and is subject to freezing. Make arrangements to protect this equipment.
- Identify areas of the business that are poorly insulated or otherwise difficult to heat. Make arrangements to provide additional heat if necessary.
- Install thermometers in vulnerable areas and inspect regularly when temperatures are near 40 degrees.
- Many people use portable electric generators during periods of power loss. Generators can be excellent tools, but also present significant risks to employees, customers, and members of the public. Prior to using the generator make a list of the appliances that must be used in the event of a power outage in order to select the proper size generator.
It’s imperative the generator be placed outside the building away from building air intakes, and carbon monoxide detectors, if not already installed, must be used when generators are in use. Be sure to store gasoline or other fuel items outside and away from ignition sources and use only heavy-duty outdoor-rated power cords for temporary use.
A roof collapse will be devastating to a business in terms of injury, property damage, product loss, and business interruption. Most businesses do not make preparations for this risk. Businesses in warmer climates may be at more risk of roof collapse because the building codes may not be designed for snow load. Follow these tips to prevent a roof collapse.
- Determine the safe snow depth for the roof based on its load capacity.
- Inspect the roof and supporting structure for damage. Make repairs as required.
- Inspect and repair roof drains and gutters to ensure there are no obstructions.
- Determine the appropriate method for removing excessive snow from the roof.
- Determine the safety precautions to be used when removing excessive snow from the roof.
- During snowfall, regularly monitor snow depth, especially snow drifts in valleys.
- Excessive snow should be removed before snow reaches 50 percent of the safe maximum depth.
- When removing snow from roofs, ensure employees or contractors have appropriate fall protection and ensure tools do not damage the roof covering or structure.
Philadelphia, PA, 19102