Winter Preparation Checklist for Wisconsin Businesses
Preparing for winter with its freezing cold temperatures, snow, and icy sidewalks is key to keeping businesses in Milwaukee and Green Bay thriving throughout the year. Conducting preventative maintenance and formulating an emergency plan helps safeguard against unforeseen events. While you can’t avert the cold weather, you can prepare to mitigate disaster. Here’s a cold weather action plan for your business and facility manager to ensure your business continues to operate throughout winter.
Check Winter Forecasts
There are several websites and apps you and your staff can download to your smartphones to stay on top of changing weather patterns. Pay attention to warnings and alerts, so employees can make necessary travel arrangements when the roads are icy. If there’s a possibility that your business has to close in the event of a storm, you’ll be able to communicate with staff beforehand. Keeping abreast of the weather allows your business to plan ahead and ensure things run as smoothly as possible with minimal interruption.
Comply With OSHA Safety Standards
Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards are rules that all businesses need to comply with to keep their workplaces free of hazards. It outlines how to prevent frostbite, hypothermia, and cold stress, which can all be fatal. Examples of OSHA standards include providing fall protection, preventing exposure to harmful substances, and providing safety equipment. Naturally, not all businesses will experience these extreme conditions, but they are expected to be familiar with OSHA winter safety tips and standards.
Begin Your Search For Contractors
Part of preparing for cold weather is finding a reputable snow removal company and a reliable salt vendor. Knowing whom to call if your business is snowed in overnight, or during a snowstorm emergency, can help keep your business doors open. Similarly, finding a good deicer will help keep snow build-up to a minimum on sidewalks and business entrances. Be sure to stock up on deicers and have a snow removal company’s emergency number saved on your contact list.
Have a Plan of Action for Winter Emergencies
Regardless of your winter preparedness at work, some snowstorms can worsen unexpectedly, and there’s always a chance you, your employees, or even some of your customers could be stranded at your businesses during a severe storm. Although unlikely, for this reason, it’s always a good idea to stock up on supplies like:
- Warm clothing and blankets
- Bottled water
- Nonperishable food
- Flashlights and candles
- A shovel
- A first-aid kit
You’ll also want to brief your staff on snowstorm protocol to ensure everyone knows what the plan is, and what their responsibilities are.
Prepare Your Business Property
Snow can damage exterior property structures and ruin roofs, pipes, and drains. Follow these preparing for winter weather tips to make sure your business property is structurally sound. And if there are signs of severe snow damage, always seek professional help.
Prepare Your Heating System
Try to get your heating system inspected by an HVAC professional every year. During an inspection, they will be able to detect leaks and rotting, clean the heating system, make sure controls work, and detect carbon monoxide leaks. You should also check insulation levels to reduce heat loss, as well as clean and uncover vents covered by drapes, furniture, and other items. If you haven’t already, change your furnace filter during the winter months to one that is energy efficient.
Preparing your business for winter may also entail insulating pipes. You can prevent frozen pipes by checking those in basements and crawl spaces and having them wrapped in insulation if they’re exposed. It’s a relatively inexpensive undertaking, but if the pipes are in an inaccessible area, it’s best to hire licensed plumbing professionals. Additionally, when the weather is freezing, let cold water drip from the faucet at a trickle to prevent them from freezing.
Prevent Slip and Fall Accidents
Snow and ice on sidewalks and pathways cause slip and fall accidents, which can lead to lawsuits. Have parking lots, sidewalks, and entrances cleaned regularly. Encourage people to wipe their feet before coming into the businesses. Installing mats will reduce the amount of snow and ice brought indoors and protect floors from water damage. If need be, use signs, cones, barricades, and floor stands to mark hazardous areas and warn pedestrians.
Check The Roof
Don’t forget to check the roof as part of your winter readiness checklist. Fix any damaged support or roofing materials as soon as possible. Check for clear and open roof drains and for any gaps around flashing or locations where objects are secured to the roof, such as antennas. You’ll also want to make sure that your roof can support a heavy load; 1 cubic foot of fresh snow is about 3 pounds, while one cubic foot of wet, heavy snow is around 21 pounds.
Repair Drainage Issues
It’s a good idea to have scheduled maintenance for drains once or twice a year. Any blocked stormwater drains can lead to substantial flooding and water damage and should be unclogged immediately. During cold months, wash away mud and sediments on and around the drain so it doesn’t solidify the drain lines. You can also use sandbags to stop debris from washing into drains. Always ensure that water runs away from your business property to avoid pooling, which can lead to ice formation and slips and falls.
Stock Up on Effective Deicing Products
Rock salt, ice melt, and liquid deicers melt or prevent the formation of ice by lowering the freezing point of water and preventing a bond between ice and paved surfaces. When selecting a deicer, you want to use the minimum number of products needed to loosen the snow or ice and remove it with a shovel or plow.
Each product offers advantages and disadvantages, while considerations include cost, environmental effect, and temperature. No matter the type of product used, you should always remove as much snow as possible, as deicers are most effective when applied to ice as opposed to snow. The deicer best for your property depends on your business needs.
If you know how to prepare for winter, you can reduce the potential damage from severe snowstorms and icy weather. Beyond structural maintenance and putting together a strategic contingency plan, you’ll probably want to check your insurance policy, too, to ensure you’re covered. Meanwhile, you can start stocking up on efficient liquid deicers from Ninja Deicer.