Water cleanup photo

Winter’s surprises can be tough enough on your business without damaging events. But when you experience a burst pipe, flooded offices, fire, smoke or other preventable event, the aftermath can be both costly and disruptive. Here are four tips for avoiding some all-too-common winter business disasters:
1) Inspect and upgrade older deficient plumbing.
Frozen and burst pipes are very costly and disruptive to a business. That’s why we recommend paying close attention to plumbing systems all year round. Insulate water-carrying pipes in areas that don’t receive much heat, and fix the smallest cracks or gaps in surrounding walls that could introduce cold air into areas surrounding pipes. Throughout the winter, check the temperature in any areas you think are at risk of falling below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. If the wind is blowing and it’s cold, provide additional heat to areas where water lines and drains are near exterior walls. The cost of temporary heat will be far less than damage resulting from burst pipes.

Be sure key workers know where the main water shutoff valve is located. Mark or flag it boldly so the building water supply can be located fast should a pipe burst. Don’t overlook the fire sprinkler system. A frozen pipe in a fire sprinkler system puts your entire building and valuable contents at risk. Do not assume that pipes that did not freeze in past years won’t freeze solid with the next cold blast of arctic air.

2) Evaluate your heat source(s) and the roof over your head.
Whether heavy snowfall or rain is in the forecast, your firm’s roof will often bear the brunt of it. Inspect the roof carefully (in warmer weather) and repair any weak spots. Schedule a furnace clean and check, do any needed repairs. Remember that it will be next to impossible to get prompt repair service during a cold snap when hundreds of other owners also desperately need an HVAC technician!

3) Have a detailed plan to deal with power loss.
A lengthy power outage at any time of the year is horrible for business. During a winter cold snap, it would be devastating. Heavy ice and snow in the winter bring the very real possibility of downed power lines from falling tree branches. Prepare your business to deal with a protracted outage. Your plan needs to cover everything from keeping employees and guests safe to protecting sensitive inventory, equipment or data. After the power goes out and is not coming back on is not the  time to devise a response plan.

4) Plan to keep all communication lines open when or if events take control.
Work out a written plan for what your business will do to operate in different weather scenarios, along with a predefined system in place for communicating storm or disaster related updates. Employees should know what expectations are for getting to work and how to proceed safely. If the weather forecast starts to portend difficult or unsafe conditions, remind employees and customers how they can get updates from home, and then be sure to have supervisor(s) providing regular pertinent communications. Don’t forget to inform your new hires.

If our early cold and snow carries into the next months, this winter of 2014-15 may be seriously challenging for organizations inadequately prepared. The majority of the country experienced record setting low temperatures in November, with new record lows set in over 400 communities.

Following these planning tips should help keep your business safer and running smoothly this and every winter. If problems should develop where we can help with losses due to water, fire or smoke, please call for help. FLOODCO LLC 406 892-1717. Our staff answers 24/7 every day of the year.

Posted by Lloy 12/5/2014   Your comments are encouraged. Please email lloy@floodco.net