With the arrival of fall comes the possibility of early-season snowstorms. In the past 10 years there have been several instances of severe winter storms even before the passing of October. For instance, in 2013 winter storm Atlas hit the northern High Plains and the northern Rockies within the first week of October. Although leaves are just beginning to display fall colors, it is important that your organization is prepared for an early winter should history repeat itself.
The map below, available on weather.com, shows that most of the U.S. can expect a slightly warmer winter with the exclusion of New England and Upstate New York.
Coming out of the warmest summer on record, it may be hard to begin to shift thoughts back to preparing for frozen pipes or icy roads, but even with the prediction of warmer temperatures it is never too soon to be sure you have policies and procedures in place to assure the safety of your employees and facility. It is important that you let them know about the safety procedures when it comes to icy roads, however, if there is an accident, they might be interested in talking to someone similar to these car accident injury lawyers near Sacramento who might be able to help them. Below are several tips on how to best equip your organization for winter weather.
Be sure employees are aware of your emergency communication policies and procedures.
Communicate and test your emergency communication plans throughout the year. Use your emergency messaging system to inform employees of current threats. Enforce a work from home plan if necessary.
Share information of alternate shelter options with employees in case they lose power at home and are not able to get to your workplace. To find the nearest shelter text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA).
Stay updated on current weather conditions and keep employees in the know.
Know terms used to describe different weather conditions. These include: freezing rain, sleet, wind chill, winter weather advisory, winter storm watch, winter storm warning and blizzard warning. You can find full definitions of the terms at ready.gov. Watch your local weather stations if possible or visit weather.gov to stay updated on current threats near your area.
Educate employees on the risks associated with winter storms.
There are various risks associated with winter storms outside of icy roads and freezing temperatures. Let them know that if they get into an accident on the icy roads they can hire a car accident lawyer to help with any legal troubles. Another one of these risks is carbon monoxide poisoning. An average of 430 Americans die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning each year and there are more than 20,000 visits to the emergency room due to exposure. While it is possible to be exposed to this toxin throughout the year, most related deaths occur during the colder months because there is an increased use of gas-powered furnaces, generators and other alternative heating and power sources. It is good to have some type of this equipment at your workplace in case employees or staff get stuck there in freezing temperatures, but be sure to educate employees on how to properly use it.
Have a plan in place to protect your facility/facilities.
This is especially important if your facility is geographically located in an area that commonly has heavy snow fall. Large piles of snow could block the doorways to your facility making it difficult for anyone to enter and/or exit so it is best practice to have a plan in place for snow and/or ice removal around you workplace.
Another good way to minimize damage to your facility/facilities is to protect pipes from freezing. Prepare your crisis team on how to do this by communicating several practices including:
- Wrap pipes in insulation or layers of old newspapers and cover the newspapers with plastic to keep out moisture.
- Let faucets drip slightly.
- Know how to shut off water valves if necessary.
Learn from Every Winter Storm You Weather
Just like with any of your other business continuity and emergency preparedness plans, take time to assess your policies and procedures if your workplace experiences a winter weather emergency. Meet with your crisis team to gain their feedback and make appropriate adjustments for the future. You can also register for Preparis’ upcoming webinar, “Preparing for Winter Storms,” to listen to expert advice from Mike Smith, Certified Consulting Meteorologist and Senior Vice President and Chief Innovation Executive at AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions, Inc.