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How to Prepare Your Small Business for Winter

How to Prepare Your Small Business for Winter

Winter can be a stressful time for small businesses, especially if you’re located in a region that’s prone to unpredictable weather, like snow and ice storms. 


That’s why it’s so important to prepare your business for winter – it can help reduce the risk of business closures, lost productivity, and even damaged inventory. 


To help you get ready, we’ve highlighted 5 tips to get your business prepared for the winter months ahead. 

 

Small Business Winter Safety Tip #1: Winterize Everything 

Snow, ice, and cold weather can all wreak havoc on a small business, but you can minimize these winter-related risks with a few proactive steps – like insulating your water pipes or getting your heating system checked. 


Of course, it’s not just about preventing damage! Winterizing your small business can also lower your heating bills and help you save on energy costs. 


Here are 11 quick and affordable ways to prepare your business right now:


  1. Insulate your water pipes to prevent them from freezing
  2. Drain any outdoor hoses and turn off the water source to the outside valves. 
  3. Touch up the weather stripping or caulking around doors and windows.
  4. Make sure any outdoor trees or larger plants are trimmed back.
  5. Put any outdoor furniture in storage. 
  6. Remove all debris and leaves from the gutters. 
  7. Have your heating system serviced and change the furnace filter. 
  8. Install storm doors/windows. 
  9. If you have a chimney/fireplace, have it serviced. 
  10. Install a programmable thermostat. 
  11. Replace the batteries on your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. 


These may seem like simple tasks, but they can make a big difference when it comes to protecting your small business from the harsh winter elements. 


To prepare your business even more, we recommend installing Notion Sensors in higher-risk areas, such as near pipes, windows, and more. Notion can detect water leaks, temperature changes, and many other events. 

 

Small Business Winter Safety Tip #2: Prepare Emergency Supplies 

On top of winterizing your property, it’s a good idea to prepare for potential storms or other emergencies by getting stocked with the right supplies.  


The last thing you want is to be searching for a shovel during a snowstorm or a flashlight when the power goes out!


Some items that you should consider buying are batteries, drinking water, emergency medical gear, toilet paper, shovels, flashlights, rock salt, a fire extinguisher, and anything else specific to your business. 



If you live in a region with frequent power outages, it’s also a good idea to get a back-up source of heat or electricity. 


Just keep in mind that gas-powered generators produce exhaust that contains carbon monoxide, so they should only be used outdoors or in highly ventilated spaces. 


Exposure to carbon monoxide can be extremely dangerous, so make sure to take the proper precautions. This includes installing carbon monoxide detectors throughout your business and testing them regularly. 


Small Business Winter Safety Tip #3: Stay Informed About Weather Conditions

Keeping a close eye on the weather and storm activity isn’t just important for the wellbeing of your customers and employees, it could also save you from costly property damage. 


Winter in some regions of the U.S. can mean blizzards, ice storms, and other severe weather events. By staying informed of these weather developments, you’ll have more time to get prepared and make better decisions. 


The best way to stay up-to-date on the weather is through the National Weather Service’s easy-to-use interactive map


You can also sign up for real-time alerts via the FEMA App or the BBC Weather App, which provides emergency safety tips for different types of disasters.



Here are a few commonly used terms in weather forecasts that you should be aware of: 


  • Winter Storm Watch: Severe conditions, such as heavy snow and/or ice, are possible within the next 12-36 hours. Start to prepare. 
  • Winter Storm Warning: Significant amount of snow/ice (4-6 inches of snow or sleet, or 1/4 inch or more of ice ) is expected in the next 12-24 hours. Seek shelter. 
  • Blizzard Warning: Snow and sustained winds (up to 35 mph or more) are expected in the next 12-18 hours. Conditions can produce blinding snow (near zero visibility), and life-threatening wind chill. Seek immediate shelter. 

It goes without saying that if a dangerous winter weather event develops, it might be best to close your business to keep both customers and employees safe. 

 

Small Business Winter Safety Tip #4: Develop a Formal Plan 

It’s also important that your business has an emergency response plan for winter disasters. This plan should detail exactly how your business responds to various weather events. 


To help you with the details, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers a series of exercises to help small businesses prepare for winter storms. 


Once you’ve developed a sound plan, it’s important to train your employees and conduct emergency drills. Every employee should know exactly what to do and where to go in the event of an emergency. 



To improve your business’ recovery time from winter storms, it’s a good idea to organize a snow-removal plan and keep any important documents (or document copies) offsite. 


If a disaster were to damage your business, you’ll want to have access to critical business information that will help you get everything back up and running. 


It’s also a good idea to backup computer data including employee, customer, and vendor information.

 

Small Business Winter Safety Tip #5: Update Your Insurance Policy  

Last but not least, it’s important to make sure your small business is properly covered. 


For example, if you’re located in a region that’s prone to storms, you may want to contact your insurance provider to make sure that your business is protected against storm-related damages. 



When having this conversation with your provider, make sure to confirm exactly what winter hazards you’re covered from and what your coverage includes in worst-case scenarios. 


Knowing that your business is covered in the event of a winter emergency can be a huge stress reliever, so don’t wait to start this conversation with your provider. 


Thanks for reading! We hope you feel better prepared to protect your small business this winter season! 

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