Winter 2014 proved to be a pretty difficult experience for many communities as well as businesses due to harsh weather conditions and a frequency of power outages. It is not too early to plan and take action to protect against potentially devastating property damage and/or business interruption losses.
Over the past winter, freezing and burst pipes were a common occurrence.
Below is a list of precautions that should be considered as we approach winter:
- Update your Emergency Response Program for winter emergencies and develop procedures for deep-freeze conditions.
- Develop procedures and a priority plan to be implemented when heat and electricity is lost.
- Service the heating system before the heating system begins and make sure adequate supplies of fuel are on hand if the system is capable of dual firing.
- Identify vulnerable areas of the building that may be difficult to adequately heat and install ordinary thermometers to allow for temperature monitoring during cold weather.
- Provide safe portable heaters for vulnerable areas that might fall below 40 degrees.
- Fix windows and doors so they close tightly. Caulk, re-insulate vulnerable areas, and weather strip as needed.
- Drain condensate from dry-pipe sprinkler system piping until the water is the riser is drained. Use auxiliary drains that should be installed at system low points.
Snow removal can be a daunting task that can be made easier with comprehensive planning and intentional preparedness efforts.
Note the following considerations:
- Review and implement the winter preparedness plan for winter storm readiness. Designate an individual responsible for monitoring the weather forecast and for facilitating winter storm action when required.
- Acquire, inspect, repair, and maintain all snow removal equipment ranging from shovels to snow plows.
- Educate, train and re-train all responsible staff on contingency plans for emergency staffing, fuel, equipment, fire protection, strategic shutdown and continued business operations.
- Alert maintenance staff when cold and snowy weather is expected.
- Verify that a snow removal contractor is in place for the winter season. Contact and hire a back up contractor.
- Obtain certificates of insurance for all third party snow removal contractors.
- Particular attention should be paid to entry areas, sidewalks and parking areas for slippery conditions.
- Entry area wet floor signage should be utilized and placed in visible areas.
- Plan the best location for placement of snow. Keep snow away from main entry and walkways. Away from hydrants, fire department connections and outside sprinkler control valves.
- Block walking areas under roof overhangs to prevent falling snow from creating a hazard.
If you have any questions about the precautions that should be considered as we approach winter, do not hesitate to contact your JKJ account manager.
Author: Paul Keenan, Vice President, Commercial Insurance