December 21, 2017 was officially the first day of winter. Is your business prepared? Winter in New England comes with beautiful snowy scenery but also risks. Ice can dam up gutters and damage your roof, losing electricity can result in missed revenue, or someone could slip on your steps.
Avoid a claim this season and ensure you've done everything you can to keep you, your employees, and your customers safe. It's never too late!
1. Prepare your building:
- Check for leaks and cracks in your roof and around any doors and windows.
- Identify any tree branches over your building and call an expert to have them removed or trimmed back.
2. Consider a generator but operate it safely:
- Having a generator may give you a competitive edge over others when the electricity fails.
- Operate the generator in a well-ventilated place to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Keep the generator at least 20 feet from the building, make sure it stays dry, and never refuel while it's running. For more safety tips, see here.
3. Don't let snow and ice on the building stay:
- If you think you might have too much snow on your roof, head to the attic to check for damage and call a professional for removal.
- DO NOT get up on a ladder and remove snow yourself. This can be very dangerous! If you have a one-story building, you may be able to remove it from the ground. Otherwise, call a professional or ask whoever is in charge of your snow removal if they also handle snow removal from roofs.
- Determine if you are responsible for removing snow from the sidewalks: MA here. If you are a business owner in NH, sidewalks on public roads are cleared by the municipality.
4. Prevent slip and falls:
- Most claims are handled case by case, but it is your responsibility not to be negligent. If you are aware of a potential hazard, you must address it.
- Clear ice not only from the walkway but also from any handles, steps, and the parking lot.
- Make sure you have good lighting. It gets dark early in the winter and you want to make sure everyone can spot potential slippery spots.
- Consider getting a warning sign for the INSIDE of your building. With everyone tracking snow in, if the floor gets slippery and someone falls, you could be liable. Warn customers to be careful.
5. Update your inventory:
- You should always try to keep an updated inventory of expensive equipment and other items in case of a loss. Do this in advance so you're not left scratching your head trying to think of what else you're forgetting.
- Consider making a copy of this inventory and keeping it at home or elsewhere.
- Take photos of the outside of your business in case you need before-and-after photos.
6. Have an emergency plan:
- If something happens during business hours, make sure you have a plan of action. Check out our post on emergency preparedness here. Scroll down for a section just on businesses.
7. Review your insurance policy:
- Re-read your insurance policy and make sure you understand what is and what isn't covered.
- If you have any questions or concerns, you can always give us a call. We want to make sure you have the right coverage and that you understand it!
- Consider business interruption coverage. If your business had to close, would you be okay? Discuss this option with us and determine if it's right for you.