Monitor the weather
- Find a reliable source for severe weather information. Follow the National Weather Service (NWS), Weather Prediction Center (WPC), and your local NWS office on Facebook or Twitter. Tune in to local news often when severe winter weather is forecast.
- Enable wireless emergency alerts on your cell phone.
- Purchase a weather alert radio that broadcasts emergency alerts from the National Weather Service, preferably one with a hand crank.
Prep The Building
- To help prevent freezing, keep the building’s internal thermostat set to at least 55°F (12.8°C).
- Put out a deicer on walkways and entrances to your business.
- For small commercial properties, open cabinet doors and let all faucets drip during extreme cold weather to prevent water from freezing inside pipes.
- If you have self-regulating heating cables on your roof, ensure they are turned on before the event.
- Ensure you have plenty of fuel for generators.
- Communicate the emergency preparedness plan to all employees.
- If you have services with contractors scheduled, follow up with them to confirm their services. This could be for snow removal or the delivery of a portable generator rental.
During A Winter Event
- If the alarm system loses power while the building cannot be occupied, arrange for alternate security.
- If your business is an “always open” operation like a hotel or media station, keep your guests and staff safe.
- Designate times for key staff members to dial into conference calls for situation overviews.
- Update status of operations on:
- Phone: Text/Emergency hotlines
- Digital: Intranet, Email
- Update customers if your business is closed for a period of time.
- Social media
After A Winter Event
Whether you got a few inches of ice or snow or a few feet, there are things you need to deal with after a winter storm.
Keep Your Business Going
- Activate your business continuity plan.
Ensure Everyone Is Safe
- Make sure guest, clients, and/or employees are safe.
- Be prepared to evacuate if structural damage from snow and ice makes a building unsafe.
- Stay away from downed powerlines.
Begin Snow Removal
- If it’s warm enough outside, it’s best to shovel after each snowfall. Keep parking lots and sidewalks surrounding the building free of snow and ice.
- Place a deicer on the ground to prevent slips and falls.
- Place nonslip mats in front of entryways to prevent slipping as employees and customers enter/exit your property.
Monitor and Clear Your Roof
- Conduct an assessment (visual and/or measurements) of the snow and ice equivalent. Compare the estimated loads to the loads determined by a structural engineer. Ensure it does not exceed the roof’s maximum snow load.
- If you have excessive snow or ice dams, have your snow removal team safely remove the snow and ice dams.
Check the Inside of Your Building
- Watch for signs of snow load damage, such as creaking sounds, a sagging roof, cracks in the ceiling or walls, water stains and door or windows that no longer open and close correctly.
- Inspect for frozen pipes. If there are water flow issues it could be a frozen pipe. You will need to raise the temperature of the frozen pipe using a portable heater or heating cable.
In Case of a Power Outage, Use Your Generator
Note: Using a generator does pose certain risks that must be addressed for safe operation, including fire, damage to electrical equipment, and even injury or death to those operating the generator.
- Portable generators should be operated outside in a well-ventilated area. A garage or docking bay may not provide enough ventilation which is required to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator’s engine exhaust. Use extreme caution when determining where to operate the generator.
- Portable generators should never be run unattended and should be checked periodically (review manufacturer recommendations).
- Do not fuel portable generators while hot.
- Keep the generator dry. Do not let snow accumulate on top.
- Permanent generators are more self-sufficient but should be monitored periodically while in operation.
If You Find Significant Damage To Your Building
- Stay safe and contact your insurance agent.
- Take photos and videos to document any losses.
- If it’s safe to do so, remove property from damaged area.
- Keep all receipts and documentation for services rendered. Create an electronic file for this information in a cloud storage account so you can access it from anywhere.