Feb 22, 2017
How to Help Your Business Weather a Winter Storm
We never quite know how long winter will last in the Midwest states. And we can never be too prepared for the worst case scenario. Check out these tips for helping your business weather a winter storm!
Prepare & Practice
We recommend preparation and practice to avoid chaos later. Between holding regular preparedness meetings and imitating an actual emergency, you and your employees will be much more efficient when the time comes to handle a winter storm. Taking these steps will allow you to identify strengths and weaknesses within your team and in and around the facility.
Some questions to ask are: Has the HR department effectively communicated to the staff any alternate workplace procedures and work-from-home policies should the power go out or travel become impossible? Some offices set up relocation plans for when the power goes out or damage has occurred, but in some cases, getting to work just isn’t possible. Does your staff know what to do in all scenarios? And do they have a dedicated person to ask?
Pro Tip: FEMA.gov has done the majority of the work for you with this winter storm playbook. Use it to help create your company’s emergency plan!
Hire a Professional Snow Removal Service
As snow “ages,” it becomes denser and heavier. Two feet of old snow plus two feet of new snow can weigh up to 60 pounds per square foot, compromising even the toughest structures. Flat roofs, doors and windows are especially at risk for caving in, especially with wet, dense snow and/or ice. Don’t risk your ceiling caving in and wreaking havoc on the inside of your office space. Instead, hire a professional to remove large amounts of compacted snow. And we don’t recommend “DIYing” this, either - doing it yourself presents too many dangers that can lead to additional disasters, such as personal injury.
Protect Heat Sources
If your office has a kitchen or laundry units, be sure to keep stoves and dryers properly vented. And the same goes for furnace vents. Blocked vents can lead to deadly carbon monoxide fumes and compacted snow acts as a good blocking mechanism.
Pro Tip: Sometimes extra heat is a must at the workplace, but be sure to keep space heaters turned off when not in use, and ideally, unplugged when unattended (typically nights and weekends). They should be UL listed and approved by management as they can cause a fire, electric shock or produce carbon monoxide gas.
Test Your Carbon Monoxide Detectors
In the event your heat sources are not properly vented, it is vital to ensure your carbon monoxide detectors do not fail you. OSHA urges employers to provide a safe and healthful environment, and part of that responsibility is to protect employees from the dangers of carbon monoxide. Per Mar recommends monitored CO detectors, similar to monitored smoke alarms and other electronic security systems, and regular testing.
Pro Tip: Did you know that it’s extremely easy to test your CO detectors? Just press the button to ensure all of your CO detectors are working properly. We recommend doing this on the first of each month and replacing them every 5-7 years.
Electronically Monitor for Environmental Leaks
Just as it is important to monitor for and prevent break-ins, it is also important to monitor your business’s environment. 24/7 alarm monitoring is the best way to prevent an unwanted situation turning from bad to worse. Since you cannot keep watch at all times, our environmental monitoring service - monitored by our UL listed and CSAA Five Diamond Certified Central Alarm Monitoring Center - will verify an alarm event and notify you the moment any of the following changes occur:
- Carbon Monoxide Leaks
- Gas (propane, LPG, LNG, etc.) Leaks
- Low and High Temperatures
- Flooding Resulting from Winter Storms
- Other Water Leaks: furnace, washer, refrigerator, freezer
Pro Tip: Use the latest technology - Total Connect - to take monitoring matters into your own hands. Promptly receive text and email alerts to any web enabled device when an alarm event occurs, and not a second later.
Protecting your business means being prepared for anything to happen. The peace of mind of knowing your workplace is safe is priceless!