Once the glow of the holidays fade, we must reckon with the cold hard truth of winter: It can be the longest three months of the year. Freezing temps, ice and unpredictable storms pose serious risks to our buildings and our workforce. Whether your team is in-person, hybrid or remote, read on for key winter preparations every company should consider.
Winterize Your Office Building(s)
If your office is fully staffed in-person, you’re likely making the rounds every day to ensure safety. However, if you’re like approximately 50% of American business,1 you’re operating in a hybrid model which may lead to sections of your office being closed off or infrequently used. If that’s the case, or your office is closed due to a winter storm event, take heed of the following safety precautions:
- Check electrical panel breakers and make sure you haven’t simply tripped a circuit.
- Turn faucets on to a trickle. This will help prevent pipes from freezing. If needed, wrap pipes in towels or newspaper.
- Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing.
- Close blinds to keep in the heat.
- Minimize opening and closing your refrigerator to keep perishables fresh.
- Close off unused rooms with no plumbing to avoid wasting heat.
- Unplug expensive electronics and appliances to prevent damage from power surges once power is restored.
Prevent Frozen Pipes
Ensuring adequate heat and monitoring facilities are important steps. The Hartford’s research indicates frozen pipes cause some of the most common and costliest cold weather claims, typically more than $18,000 per claim. The data shows that the risk of pipes bursting can increase when businesses are closed or unoccupied (e.g. due to storm closings). Even a short period of time, like over weekend, can cause disruptive losses.
Practice Business Continuity Management
It’s never too early to prepare. Business continuity management (BCM) helps a business prepare and plan for how it will recover in the aftermath of a disaster. Business continuity planning requires time and effort from all areas of the business, but in the long run, having a business continuity plan (BCP) in place can help reduce loss, save lives and speed up recovery after a major emergency. Get started with this 7-step plan for employers.
Create a Winter Storm Plan
Winter storms caused $2.1 billion in insured losses in 2019 and are often referred to as “deceptive killers.” This is because weather conditions are rarely the sole reason for winter fatalities. It’s winter weather combined with other contributing factors that lead to a significant number of deaths annually. This is why it is so important to learn what you can do before, during and after a storm strikes, to help protect your loved ones, home and business. Follow this step-by-step guide for what to do before and after winter storms.
Protect Yourself From Flooding
Flooding can occur anywhere, anytime. And it’s caused by more than just rainfall. Snow melt, hurricanes and new development in your area also can cause flooding. So, even if your property is located high on a hill or in the desert, you still could experience flooding. More than 20% of flood claims come from properties outside high-risk flood zones. Most commercial property insurance policies don’t cover flood damage. With a standard flood insurance policy through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), you can protect your buildings, contents or both. Insuring both means you’ll have coverage for damage to walls, floors, equipment and fixtures as well as furniture, appliances, wall and floor coverings, clothing, audio equipment and televisions.
Reduce the Risk of Slips, Trips & Falls
Slip and fall accidents can be very costly whether they involve your employees or someone else legally on your premises. Each year, these accidents result in thousands of workers' compensation or third-party liability claims. In fact, slip and falls account for approximately 1/3 of The Hartford’s workers’ compensation and general liability claims. This risk can increase substantially with winter weather. Prevent expensive claims by treating all exterior areas where you expect to have pedestrian and/or vehicle traffic and make certain the property has ample lighting during the shorter daylight hours of winter. Once and done is not sufficient – inspect and treat areas of potential hazard frequently.
1 2021 Return to Workplaces Survey, Deloitte, April 2021
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