The Freezing 5 — Five Tips for Protecting Your Business from Freezing Temperatures

Winter’s weather surprises can be tough enough on your business without mishaps. But when you add on a burst pipe, flooded basement, Christmas tree fire, or other preventable events, the headaches can quickly become enormous and costly. As a complement to our earlier post on fall business preparations, here are five tips for avoiding some all-too-common winter business blues:

1) Prepare and monitor pipes
The water damage to your business from burst frozen pipes can be very costly and disruptive. That’s why we recommend taking precautions year-round. Be sure to insulate water-carrying pipes in areas that don’t receive radiant heat, and to fix 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. Finally, be sure you know where your main water shutoff valve is located, so you can quickly turn off the building water supply should a pipe burst.

2) Don’t forget about fire sprinkler systems
A frozen pipe in a fire sprinkler system is not only a potential big mess—but it also puts your entire building at risk. So don’t forget to inspect your fire sprinkler system, in addition to the pipes in your basement and out-of-the-way areas. Once again, it’s important to insulate pipes in any areas with the potential to freeze and fix any cracks or gaps in surrounding walls.

3) Double-check your heat source(s) and the roof
Whether heavy snow or rain is in the forecast, your roof will bear the brunt of it. Before we have inevitable rough winter weather, double-check that your roof is holding up and fix any remaining issues. Also, consider how your furnace or boiler performed during the November cold snap, and line up an inspection or repairs, if you haven’t done so already. That way you can hopefully avoid the need for service during a big weather event when repair help is in short supply.

4) Have a plan for power loss
A power outage at any time of the year is bad for business. But during a winter cold spell, it can be especially problematic. Since ice and snow in the winter bring the very real possibility of falling tree branches and downed power lines, be sure your business is prepared before, during and after an outage. Your plan needs to cover everything from keeping employees and guests safe, to protect sensitive equipment.

5) Keep communication lines open
Finally, extreme weather is stressful for everyone who has to go out in it. So be sure you have clear parameters for what your business will do in different kinds of weather, along with a predefined system in place for communicating business-related updates. When the forecast starts getting ugly, remind employees and customers how they can get updates, and then be sure to provide them regularly.

If November’s weather is any indicator, winter will be mild this year. In fact, the majority of the country experienced unseasonably high temperatures throughout 2016. Whether or not we finally start to see wicked winter weather, these five tips will help keep your business safe and running smoothly when the worst happens.