Winter and Cold Weather Safety Tips to Protect Your Business and Customers

Even when the weather outside gets frightful, preparing a plan and following best practices can help to ensure you protect your business, and the customers who depend upon it, remain safe and delightful throughout the winter season and during periods of extreme cold.

Winter weather in New England is as unpredictable as it can be intense – whether it is freezing temperatures, powerful and disruptive snowstorms, more hours of darkness, or black ice, the season brings about a unique set of potential hazards that, with a plan in place and proper precautions taken, can be minimized to keep people and your business safe.

Preparing for Winter and Cold Weather

Weather events, like polar vortexes and winter storms that may range from moderate snow in a short amount of time to a blizzard lasting for days, are occasions that require thoughtful preparations. Before a winter storm hits or periods of extreme cold set in, make sure you know key terms:

  • Winter Storm Watch: Be alert, a storm is likely.
  • Winter Storm Warning: Take action, the storm is in or entering the area.
  • Blizzard Warning: Snow and strong winds combined will produce blinding snow, near zero visibility, deep drifts, and life-threatening wind chill. Seek refuge immediately!
  • Winter Weather Advisory: Winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous, especially to motorists.
  • Frost/Freeze Warning: Below freezing temperatures are expected and may cause damage to pipes, plants, and/or fruit trees as well as contribute to the formation and accumulation of black ice.
  • Cold Wave: As defined by the U.S. National Weather Service, a rapid fall in temperature within a 24-hour period requiring substantially increased protection to agriculture, industry, commerce, and social activities.

Before the winter season begins and especially as cold weather and/or a winter storm begins to approach, it is important to ensure you have the supplies you need and that you have taken precautions to mitigate risks:

  • Survey Your Surroundings: Review in and around your dwelling to determine what might be your greatest risk potential (loss of heat, frozen pipes, ice dams, roof stability, carbon monoxide, loss of access dur to snow/ice) and take action to reduce any risks you might discover. Also, be sure to inventory (list, take pictures and video) valuable equipment should you ever have to file an insurance claim..
  • Communication is key: Connecting with your employees on storm plans and sharing updates like closings or reduced hours to customers is critical for keeping people safe and informed. Be sure to follow OSHA requirements and standards for displaying hazard signs that are easily accessible and very likely to be seen by anyone walking through the area.
  • Snow and Ice Removal: Be sure you have supplies like snow shovels, rock salt, and other items and/or equipment that will be needed to clear paths and treat them to prevent the formation of black ice. Develop a post-storm snow removal plan, including the treatment of surfaces to prevent ice from building up and putting down absorbent mats and/or carpets to minimize moisture, to reduce risks for employees and customers alike.

Keeping Safe During the Winter Season and Periods of Extreme Cold

  • Carefully Consider Your Attire and Activities: What people wear and what they do has a measurable impact over how you experience winter weather. By keeping dry and wearing layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing, boots or other footwear that provide traction and preserve heat, along with items like hats, gloves, and scarves, people like employees and customers can stay warm and be better protected from the elements.
  • Keep Informed and Healthy: Continue to check local news, the national weather service, and other reputable sources to get the most current information on public safety, the weather event, and other critical information you need to inform your activities. Remember to regularly eat, drink plenty of fluids, and to avoid overexertion when shoveling snow or walking outside.
  • Check In on Your Family, Friends, and Neighbors: Whether it is checking in on an elderly family member of a neighbor with a condition that puts them at high risk for cold-weather related illnesses like frostbite and hypothermia or risks like slipping and falling, it is important to keep an eye on one another during snow storms and other incidences of winter weather.

By following these easy steps and maintaining the proper insurance coverage, you can enjoy the winter weather without worry.

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