Before a winter weather event
- Monitor the weather
- Find a reliable source for severe weather information. Follow the National Weather Service (NWS) Weather Prediction Center. (WPC) on Facebook or Twitter and your local NWS office. Tune in to local news often when 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.
- Communicate the emergency preparedness plan to all employees.
- To help prevent freezing, keep the building’s internal thermostat always set to at least 55°F (12.8°C).
- For small commercial properties, open cabinet doors and let all faucets drip during extreme cold weather to prevent water from freezing inside the pipes.
- If you have self-regulating heating cables on your roof, ensure they are turned on before the event.
- 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.
- Ensure you have plenty of fuel for generators.
During a winter event
- If the alarm system loses power while the building cannot be occupied, arrange for alternate security.
- Update status of operations on:
- Emergency hotlines
- Social media
- Designate times for key staff members to call into conference calls for situation overviews.
After a winter event
- Activate your business continuity plan.
- Ensure everyone is safe.
- Make sure guest, clients, and employees are safe.
- Be prepared to evacuate if structural damage from snow and ice makes a building unsafe.
- Stay away from downed powerlines.
- Snow removal.
- Safety first!
- Keep the parking lot and sidewalks surrounding the building free of snow and ice. Shovel after each snowfall. Keep ice melt/salt on the ground to prevent slips and falls.
- Place non-slip mats in front of entryways to prevent slipping as employees and customers enter/exit your business property.
- Monitor your roof’s snow load to ensure it does not exceed its maximum capacity.
- Conduct an assessment (visual and/or measurements) of the snow and ice equivalent as described in Figure 2. Compare the estimated loads to the loads determined by a structural engineer.
- If you have excessive snow or ice dams, have your snow removal team safely remove the snow and ice dams.
- 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.
- In case of a power outage, use your generator.
- 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 or working in the building where it is being used.
- Proper ventilation is required to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator’s engine exhaust.
- Portable generators should be operated outside in a well-ventilated area. A garage or docking bay may not provide enough ventilation. 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).
- Portable generators should not be fueled while hot.
- Do not let snow accumulate on top of a portable generator.
- Permanent generators are more self-sufficient but should be monitored periodically while they are in operation.
- If you find significant damage to your building
- Safety first
- Take photos and videos to document any losses
- Contact your insurance agent
- If it’s safe to do so, remove property from damaged area
- Keep all receipts and documentation for any services conducted
- Consider creating an electronic file for this information in a cloud storage account so you can access it from anywhere.