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Winter is one of the harshest times for businesses, and not just because people don’t want to go out and shop when it’s freezing outside. We’ve been lucky to have unseasonably warm weather here on the east coast this winter, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t cold weather coming for us eventually!

If you’re a business owner, dipping temperatures offer unique challenges that you have to be ready to meet head-on. Of course, having the right tools on hand will help you make it through to spring relatively unscathed, and it never hurts to take a few winter weather precautions so you’re always prepared.

Precaution #1: Water Pipes

While one of the most common precautions taken by businesses and homeowners, it’s also one of the most important. Frozen water pipes can lead to stalled water service at best, and exploded pipes and flooding at worst.

That’s why it’s important for a business to know where the pipes are, and to make sure they’re properly insulated, and that the area around them is kept at a minimum of 40 degrees to prevent freezing. Exterior faucets should also be shut off, drained, and left open to prevent damage during the winter season.

Precaution #2: Snow and Ice Clearance

Too often a business thinks of the snow and ice outside as someone else’s problem. However, if your sidewalk has six inches of snow on it, along with an inch or more of ice, then it is going to keep customers and clients from coming inside.

It’s important to make sure your entrances are properly cleaned, and that you make the area around your business as safe as humanly possible. That means shoveling, breaking up ice if necessary, and putting down salt or other de-icing chemicals to be sure that your walkway doesn’t turn into a skating rink. Customers appreciate that kind of effort, but it also helps prevent injuries, which could lead to lawsuits.

Precaution #3: Runners, Rugs, And Other Mess Catchers

Most businesses think far enough ahead to put down runners in order to catch rain water as it drips off of customers’ shoes. Those kinds of precautions should be doubled during the winter months because customers will be tracking in water, snow, ice, salt, and other attendant substances that wind up on their outerwear during the winter season.

Giving customers a place to stamp their feet and shake off the worst of the weather prevents the mess from reaching too far inside your doors, which saves you a huge amount of effort in cleaning up.

Precaution #4: Keep an Eye Out For Ice Dams

An ice dam is difficult to miss, given that it’s a huge chunk of ice sitting right on your roof line. What happens is that heat rises from inside a building, melting snow on the roof, and then the melted snow begins to run off. Sometimes it re-freezes, though, creating a dam at the edge of the roof.

This dam prevents further water from draining, and worse, can lead to the water leaking into the roof. That’s why if you notice fat chunks of ice at the edge of the roof it’s best to pull them down with a roof rake, or to report them to maintenance so they can be removed immediately.

Precaution #5: Work From Home, if You Can

The weather isn’t just a burden on your customers and clients; it’s also a burden on you. Sometimes you simply have to come into the office, but it’s important to remember that not every job requires people to be on-hand. If you or your employees can work from home and avoid dangerous highways or inclement weather, then you should provide that kind of flexibility to ensure things keep running smoothly.

Of course, many fears associated with the winter months can be assuaged by making sure that you have the right insurance to cover any unfortunate mishaps. That includes commercial property insurance, which is a must-have for anyone who owns the property on which their business operates. If you’re not sure if you have the proper coverage, schedule an assessment with one of our business insurance experts to find out!