Understanding their specific winter weather risks plays a vital role in helping businesses make informed decisions and take appropriate actions to protect their employees and property. Doing so also allows businesses to proactively limit potential damage and enhance their overall storm preparedness. Here are steps that businesses can take to assess their winter weather exposures:
- Conduct a risk assessment. First and foremost, businesses should carefully review and document their unique winter weather risks through in-depth assessments. These risks will vary based on factors such as location, industry, operations, workplace conditions and employee responsibilities. For instance, businesses located in colder regions (e.g., the Midwest) or those that rely on outdoor operations may face greater winter weather exposures than others. In any case, by better understanding these risks, businesses can respond accordingly and adopt more effective mitigation methods. Common winter weather risks include the following:
- Structural concerns (e.g., burst or frozen pipes and water damage)
- Dangerous driving conditions and transportation delays or cancellations
- Equipment breakdowns and utility disruptions (e.g., heat and communication services)
- Electrical fires and power outages
- Employee illnesses and injuries (e.g., hypothermia, frostbite, cold stress, and slips and falls)
- Understand applicable weather advisories and warnings. In addition to conducting risk assessments, businesses should make it a priority to understand winter storm advisories and warnings. Having a solid grasp of this terminology can help businesses anticipate incoming weather conditions and prepare as needed. Here are some key definitions for businesses to keep in mind:
- Winter storm watch—This type of watch alerts individuals of the possibility of winter storm conditions (e.g., heavy snow, sleet or freezing rain) in their area within the next 12-24 hours.
- Winter storm warning—Such a warning is issued when winter storm conditions are imminent or already taking place in a particular location.
- Ice storm warning—This type of warning is issued when a winter storm is projected to cause 0.25 inches or more of total ice accumulation in a specific location, which has the potential to damage trees and power lines.
- Blizzard warning—Such a warning is issued when a winter storm is expected to create a dangerous combination of heavy snow and strong winds in a particular location in the next 12-18 hours, therefore producing intense gusts and restricting outdoor visibility to 0.25 miles or less for at least three consecutive hours.
- Winter weather advisory—This type of advisory alerts individuals that total accumulations of snow, sleet or ice from a winter storm in their area will likely pose considerable inconveniences and, without proper precautions, may lead to life-threatening situations.
- Stay informed. In order to be aware of incoming winter storms, businesses should rely on proper communication channels and regional alert systems. Businesses can generally expect to receive winter weather advisories and warnings several hours or days in advance from local news stations, mobile applications and social media platforms. Furthermore, the NOAA’s Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR) offers a nationwide network of radio stations that broadcast ongoing weather updates and forecasts from nearby National Weather Service offices. The NWR is available 24/7.
Article Published By: Zywave, Inc.