The Old Farmer’s Almanac forecasts a frigid winter in the continent’s northern half and abundant snowfall in the west. Even the southeast, the source notes, won’t escape winter’s clutches with below average temperatures expected. Don’t believe this folkloric source? Several prominent official forecasts show similar patterns!
Whatever the conditions in store for the winter of 2020/2021, commercial businesses should plan now to avoid the five most common winter business problems. “Every year, we see commercial customers encountering the same five types of challenges during winters – some clearly tied to the weather and others that tend to increase in frequency at this time for other reasons,” says Kelleree Hoggard, Vice President, Commercial Division, for Paul Davis. “We advise planning now to prevent both types of problems and know how to address them if they do occur despite best efforts.”
Heavy Snowfall: Snowfall preparations focus on two areas: structural and procedural. Inspect buildings to ensure they will withstand the weight of snow: check supports, flashing and sealing. Insulate pipes exposed to the cold. Inspect eavestroughs and downspouts to ensure drainage occurs when snow melts. Finally, ensure your snow removal crew is ready for service, able to handle large accumulations and knows where to place the snow that is removed.
Slips and Falls: The frequency of these accidents, which happen outdoors more often in the winter, can be reduced in several ways: removing snow and ice regularly, treating slippery areas with ice melt solutions or salt and placing absorbent mats atop hard flooring to catch tracked-in moisture. Ensure maintenance staff is on alert to mop up meltwater that accumulates.
Vehicle Accidents: Accidents are much more common when snow, ice and freezing weather make driving anywhere – whether parking lot or highway driving – more hazardous. The best strategy is to plan your company’s response now for implementation when the weather threatens. Plans will likely include removing snow and ice promptly, enabling employees to work remotely, closing locations in particularly hazardous conditions and postponing deliveries.
Fires: With boilers and furnaces running full blast during winters, fall is a good time to schedule maintenance, verify safe operation and clean flues/vents. Since many commercial fires start in the kitchen, now is a good time to schedule a kitchen inspection and vent cleaning, too. Review fire extinguisher locations, ensure they are maintained as required and train staff to use them properly. For many businesses, local fire marshals can inspect your property free of charge to identify fire hazards.
Break-ins/Burglaries: As days grow shorter, the change of seasons delivers a thief’s favourite tool: darkness. Inspect the premises at night to ensure that safety lighting operates as intended – motion-activated models are ideal – and fully illuminate hidden or risky areas like loading docks or rear entries. Repair any windows or doors that don’t lock securely. Many businesses install interior and exterior security cameras. Ensure these are ready for action.
Preparing your business for winter? Contact your local Paul Davis franchise to discuss how we can help.