No matter how prepared you think your business is, surprise winter storms can take you by complete surprise. Nobody wants a repeat of early 2021. It is when several sources reported that insured losses rose to $15.1 billion due to severe winter conditions.
Are you a budding startup or a huge corporation? These 6 steps will help your business prepare for any winter storm headed your way.
1. Know the Physical Status of Your Business
Everyone is probably aware of encountering slippery roads and snow buildup, but the cold weather may also affect the physical structure of your business. You may not realize the degree of water damage winter can cause.
It’s important for any business owner to assess how the company is doing in terms of physical structures and potential safety risks in the workplace.
Some of these hazards may include:
- Slippery pathways and roads
- Potential risk areas for slips and falls
- The extremely cold temperature during work hours
- Signs of stress and damage in the physical structure
- Power and network interruptions during winter
2. Create a Plan of Action
In any organization, preparation always involves planning – and it’s the same case when readying your business for severe winter conditions. After all, the business owner has to deal with not only the physical facility but also the people working in it.
Although winter hazards may come in all strengths and sizes, you can still somehow foresee how you and your people can prepare for them.
- Make sure that you’re subscribed to weather updates and connected with local authorities that issue weather warnings.
- Establish a safety plan that clearly delineates foot traffic and emergency procedures.
- Creating a decision process flowchart may also be crucial in high-stakes situations when management needs to make tough calls related to inclement weather.
- Prepare a winter storm checklist so that employees know what to do when the storm warning is issued. This list may include devices and equipment to shut down, safety gear to bring, and related safety protocols.
3. Assign Roles to Specific People
Emergency weather situations may cause people in the organization to panic, which may lead to confusion and chaos. This won’t happen when you’ve got people who are pre-assigned to lead people and address urgent concerns.
Ensure that you have gathered a team intended for this particular purpose. This group should be comprised of people who can help you to continue running the business in the middle of a crisis. Make sure to also form a safety team that will address issues directly related to the storm at hand.
As soon as you’ve identified people and assigned them their roles, make sure that they are all equipped for the responsibilities given to them. If not, then give them opportunities to learn and be trained for their roles during the crucial situation. The equipment that they need may range from property disaster management to business crisis mitigation.
4. Evaluate Your Physical Facility for Winter Flooding Risks
What good is a well-trained set of employees and a careful plan of action, when your business facility is a hazard waiting to happen? After all, the first part of your business that’s going to be directly affected by the weather is your physical building or workplace.
Did you know that small but regular checkups can already make a big difference in winterizing your business? Here are a handful of preparatory hacks that you can do on your physical facility:
- Keep a regular checkup & maintenance schedule of your entire building. In line with the winter season, seal any gaps in the roofs and windows to prevent the cold air from seeping through.
- Check the thermostat and heating systems throughout the entire building. Repair or replace what needs to be addressed, before the storm hits you unexpectedly.
- Protect pipes from freezing by insulating them with the right kind of material.
- Repair any surface cracks that may potentially become large and cause water seepage. You wouldn’t want your business to be literally underwater, right?
It might also be a good idea to ask people in the workplace for any physical hazards that they have observed. The last thing you want to happen is for someone in your organization to be physically hurt because of unsafe physical conditions in your business.
5. Establish an Efficient Communication Plan
Good communication can spell the difference between safety and disaster. Weather experts can already evaluate if a winter calamity is about to hit, and knowing this can give you enough prep time to keep your business and your employees safe.
An effective plan of communication involves coordination with weather stations and local authorities. It also requires rapid contact with utility service providers, emergency rescue teams, and insurance companies.
More importantly, make sure that you have proper communication channels with everyone in the organization. In an age when technology is at our disposal, maximize the wide variety of methods to inform employees and get updates from them.
It’s also a great idea to set up an emergency communications system that relies on utilities independent from your main sources. In this way, even if the severity of the storm causes cuts in your main networks, you can still communicate with everyone in your team.
6. Check for Water Damage Winter May Have Caused in Your Business
When the storm calms down and winter flooding subsides, you may already start checking on every area of your business. Here are some assessment questions that can help you evaluate how your business is doing after the storm:
- Are all of the members of your organization safe and accounted for?
- Next, Are there physical damages in your business facility that need immediate attention?
- Are there any signs of flood or water damage?
- Has the storm caused your business to cease operations? If so, what urgent matters need to be addressed in order to bring your business back to normal?
Do You Think Your Business is Ready for a Winter Storm?
When you stop and think about it, a lot of things may go haywire when the weather goes against you. Knowing what to prepare and how to operate during a winter storm may help you keep your business afloat despite the situation.
Should you need help in addressing water damage caused by crazy winter conditions, feel free to reach out to our Emergency Response Services team as soon as possible.