Here’s How to Prepare (And Protect) Your Business in Winter
From endless inches and feet of snow to the relentless pounding of hail and wind, severe winter weather can wreak some serious havoc on your business.
In order to protect your property and investments, proper winter preparedness is key to keeping everything safe through the cold winter months.
If you own a business, read on for a comprehensive checklist that will help you get ready when Old Man Winter arrives.
Monitor Conditions in Advance
The golden rule of any season and any severe weather event is to be aware and prepared well ahead of the storm. You can do this by following your local weather updates closely and understanding the different winter weather terms.
If there’s a winter storm on the way, you can expect snow, sleet, freezing rain, or a combination of all of them. An ice storm is especially serious and typically involves at least one-quarter inch of ice buildup or more.
If your local weatherman mentions a blizzard, be aware that this includes a combination of snow and severely gusty winds that can reach 35 miles per hour or more. You won’t be able to see while driving, so it’s best to tell employees to stay home if a blizzard is threatening your area.
A winter storm watch means that severe winter conditions can occur within the next 12 to 36 hours. And, if you hear the words winter storm warning, you can expect to those conditions to arrive even sooner along with around four to six inches of snow or sleet.
Once you understand what each weather announcement means, you’ll be better prepared to make arrangements in advance. You might need to close your business for at least a day or more and tell employees to stay home.
Check Your Building for Possible Issues Ahead of Time
The best way to practice winter preparedness is to make sure your building is able to handle the severe weather. Check your building and look for things like roof damage that could end up resulting in serious problems later on.
Pay close attention to cracks near your doors and windows, and make sure you repair all roof leaks well before winter sets in. Other red flags include loose trim or loose objects that could potentially blow away and cause an injury.
If you decide to stay open during the storm, make sure you have someone who can make walkways clear of snow and ice. Otherwise, you could end up liable if a customer or employee slips and falls.
Call your business insurance company to find out what you’re covered for in the event of a severe winter storm. Make sure the current coverage you have is adequate and if not, you may want to increase your level of coverage for peace of mind.
Put all emergency phone numbers together in a central location and make sure they’re easily visible by employees. This includes your electrician, plumber, snow removal company, and the utility company. Post the list in a prominent location and send a copy via email to everyone who works there.
One very crucial part of proper winter preparedness is making sure your servers and computers are backed up before a storm hits. Perform regular check-ups of your business computer system and make sure all documents are backed up daily.
For even more protection, consider Paralleling Generators that feature two generators running at the same time. If one generator fails, the other one will serve as a backup and continue running.
Devise a Winter Preparedness Plan
Once you’ve checked your building for any vulnerabilities, it’s time to create a company-wide plan in the event of severe weather. Expect issues like downed trees and highway closures that could hamper your business operations. Consider what would happen if you’re shut down for a few days, then plan accordingly.
All of your employees should be aware of a shelter-in-place plan in case of a storm occurring while you’re open. Keep a stockpile of clean drinking water and food just in case you’re stuck at the business for a day or two.
Encourage your employees to bring their own personal emergency kits, too. Make sure you have plenty of flashlights, batteries, a first aid kit, and at least one or more battery-operated radios.
Discuss how you’ll handle severe winter weather with your employees and decide how you will communicate any changes with your customers. You should also pass the plan along to any vendors and suppliers. Talk with your human resources department to devise a communication plan if employees are asked to stay home.
You can use several avenues to communicate your winter weather plan including emails, text messages, and social media. Update the plan as things change and remember to stick to your plan once a winter storm strikes your area.
Prepare for the Worst, Hope for the Best
When it comes to winter preparedness for your business, there’s plenty of things you can to do be proactive. Check your building and make sure you address any potential issues before the winter season arrives at your doorstep.
Communicate with your insurance company and your employees so that everyone is on the same page in the event of serious winter weather. Keep a decent stock of water, food, and emergency supplies at your business location just in case it’s needed.
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