Image courtesy of The Atlantic The Insurance Information Institute (III.org) tracks catastrophic losses that are both insured and uninsured. Winter Storm claims rank third behind hurricane/tropical storm and tornado losses. As a business owner preparation will minimize a potential Winter Storm loss. There are many precautions that a business owner can take to protect their valuable assets; be they property or life. Let’s break the business owner’s responsibility into three categories:
• Property – Personal and Real Property • Employee Safety • Customer/Guest Safety
Almost every building in North America is subject to severe winter weather, such as blizzard conditions, ice storms and severe cold. This is true not only of businesses located in the central and northern portions of our country, but also can occur in areas as far south as Texas and Florida. In fact, loss history indicates that the area most vulnerable to damage is the southern portions of the US because they are not accustomed to prolonged cold. It is very important that every business prepare in advance for the possibility of severe winter weather. The following are areas that need to be checked/secured to prevent unnecessary losses:
• Sprinkler System – they are vulnerable if building temperatures fall below 40° • Water Supplies – into and out of the building – they are vulnerable if your interior temperature falls below 40° • Building heating systems – should be checked and serviced each autumn • Windows and Doors checked for leaks, broken panes or seals • Roof and Gutters – checked annually for leaks and need for repair • Temporary heaters – a plan in place to provide heat to the building if the power is out causing the interior temperature to fall below 40° • Storage for Exterior Property(i.e. chairs, tables) that could be damaged if they are covered under ice and snow
No one’s life or quality of life is worth an unsafe trip to or from work during a winter storm. As a business owner it is your responsibility to develop a plan for severe weather and communicate your expectations with employees. The plan should be outlined in your employee handbook as well as discussed with employees if bad weather is predicated. You should never leave it up to your employees to guess if it is safe to travel to/from their job.
If you are open for business it is your responsibility to provide a safe environment for your customers to come into, purchase your product or service, and exit your business without physical harm. If you are not able to provide this safe environment then you should not be open for business until you can insure their safety. Risk evaluation: • Parking lot(s) free of ice, snow, and debris • Walkways to and from your business entry free of ice, snow and debris • Ice or snow that could fall from your roof onto a customer while entering or exiting your business • Dry floors inside your business • Mat for customers to dry their shoes when they enter • Help escorting customers to their vehicles if necessary • All parking lots and walkways should be constantly checked to insure they remain in a safe condition • All floors should be constantly checked and cleaned of water that may have melted off customer’s shoes • Offer to call a taxi if the roads have deteriorated while the customer is in your business and they no longer feel they can safely drive home
A few simple preparations can help your business, employees, and customers survive a Winter Storm without damage or injury. For more information please contact:
- Mona M Carpenter