The nights are starting to get chilly with the arrival of winter in Colorado. This colder weather indicates weather patterns are changing. With the colder weather comes snow and ice. Is your business ready for the upcoming winter storms?
Why Do You Need to Prepare?
Winter storms can cause a lot of damage. Take the Colorado blizzard of 2013, for example. This winter storm caused over $93 million in damage, making it the costliest winter storm to ever hit Colorado. Much of that damage was due to accumulated snow causing the collapse of roofs, outbuildings, carports, and porches. Other causes of damage include toppled trees, downed powerlines, wind, food spoilage, and snow melt leakage.
Winter storms can bring death. Most deaths associated with blizzards and other forms of harsh winter weather are not directly from the storm. They come from prolonged exposure to extreme cold temperatures or from vehicle accidents caused by accumulated snow and ice.
Winter storms can cripple your business. They can freeze and burst pipes. They can cause slip and fall hazards on the sidewalk and parking area. They can overwhelm your heating system. They can block roads for days or weeks, keeping business away. They can trap key employees at their homes.
How Can You Get Your Business Ready
Preparation is critical if your business is going to weather the next winter storm. Here are some things you can do to get ready:
- Make sure your building is ready. Burst pipes are a common problem during a winter storm. Make sure the pipes in your building are insulated and have heat tape where necessary. Falling tree limbs can damage roofs or go through windows. Trim close limbs back from the building.
- Get your plans for snow and ice removal in place now. Your employees and customers need to access your business. If your parking lot is filled with snow, no one can park. If the ice is stacked on the sidewalk, it makes it very dangerous to walk into the place. In addition, both are a huge liability.
- Invest in a generator. Power lines commonly go down during winter storms. If the power line to your building goes down, it could take weeks for the power company to get it fixed. A generator can keep your business open while your neighbors are still in the dark.
- Get your insurance up to date. You don’t want to be in the position of not having enough coverage if something happens. Talk with your agent about any changes you have made to the business.
- Update your asset documentation. If you have to make an insurance claim, you will need an inventory with photos and receipts to back up your claim. Now is the time to do that work. Once it’s done, store it in a safe location off-site. This information will help get your claim paid faster and with less hassle.
- Be familiar with winter storm warnings. A winter weather advisory means conditions will cause significant inconveniences and could be hazardous. A winter storm watch means there is a good chance a winter storm may hit your area. A winter storm warning means the storm has arrived or will occur very soon. A blizzard warning means winds will be sustained above 35 mph with falling snow causing reduced visibility, for at least a period of 3 hours.
- Ensure your company vehicles are winterized. If you provide services in customers’ homes or businesses, this step is not optional. You need those vehicles working, no matter the weather. But this step is a good idea for any vehicle owned by the company. Remember to top off the gas tank before the storm arrives also.
- Prepare an emergency kit. Every office or business needs a basic supply of non-perishable food, bottled water, emergency supplies, and other essentials. A simple list includes the following:
- Portable radio
- First aid kit
- Have emergency heating equipment. The electricity or the gas may be lost after a winter storm. You will need a way to heat the building. A propane heater or a wood-fired stove are two options.
- Develop an emergency plan. What will you do if your building sustains damage during a winter storm? Thinking out possible scenarios like this helps you be prepared for any disaster. It will tell you how to evacuate, how to contact essential personnel, and even how to get your business up and running in a separate location if it becomes necessary.
Taking these steps will prepare your property for the next storm that comes through. A bit of work now will ensure that your business will survive and thrive, even when the weather gets tough and stays that way.
If your business is impacted by severe winter weather, call a public adjuster you can trust. Insurance companies have an adjuster to protect their interests, why not have your own adjuster? Call Commercial Claim Pro today at (877) 877-6612.
Photo Zach Dischner | Used under Creative Commons image attribution license 2.0