Preparing for Winter
GuideOne Risk Resources for Health Care
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W. Des Moines, IA 50265-3538
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Property Safety: Preparing for Winter

As the fall weather is becoming more prominent and we begin to experience colder temperatures, it is time to perform annual maintenance and prepare for winter. Being proactive now could save your organization from potential losses, and also protect your building from damage during the harsh winter. Specifically at this time of year, it is a good idea to perform maintenance or inspections on your building's roof and plumbing, as well as service your heating system and identify any trip or fall hazards.

Roof Maintenance

By conducting periodic roof inspections, potential problems can be identified and repaired early, extending the life of your roof and reducing the cost of repairs. Check roof drains, gutters and downspouts to ensure they are free from any buildup of leaves, twigs and other debris that would prevent proper drainage of water and make sure roof runoff is being adequately directed away from the building's foundation. Inspect the roof for missing or damaged shingles, and inadequate flashing or caulking around vents and chimneys. Any evidence of water damage, including rotten wood, damaged walls or stains on interior ceilings, should be inspected and addressed as well. Consider hiring a licensed and insured professional to make any needed roof repairs.

Frozen Pipes

Freezing temperatures can result in frozen pipes inside your building, which may burst and cause extensive water damage. To prevent pipes from freezing and bursting, consider the following precautions:

  • Identify the main water shut off valve in your building. If a leak would occur, quick access to this valve will minimize water damage.
  • Wrap pipes that are exposed to freezing temperatures and in unheated areas with pipe insulation, which can be found in local hardware stores.
  • If your building has any exterior faucets or a lawn-irrigation system, it is important that those water pipes are drained and disconnected from any hoses prior to the winter freeze.
  • During extremely cold weather, consider turning faucets on to a slow drip or trickle to reduce the chances of pipes freezing.
  • If you have a frozen pipe, contact a licensed plumbing contractor as soon as possible.

Servicing Heating Systems

Have your heating system serviced by a licensed heating contractor to ensure proper operation. Check furnace filters monthly and replace every three months (could be more frequent depending on its condition). If your building has a boiler, it is important to properly service and maintain these systems as well. To ensure all safety precautions and maintenance checks have been made, view this Heating Boiler Start-Up Checklist from The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company.

Trip and Fall Hazards

Continuously inspecting and maintaining walking surfaces is crucial to preventing slips, trips and falls. Prior to the winter season and snowfall becoming more frequent, inspect all walking surfaces for any potential hazards, such as cracks or potholes, depressions, tree roots or inadequate patching. Indoors, it also is important to ensure that all preventative action is taken to identify any hazards. For example, one step your organization can take is ensuring carpeted floor surfaces are free from holes, rips and tears.

Keep Your Tenants and Building Safe This Winter

While there are many items to inspect before the winter season begins, identifying the hazards mentioned above is a good start. Limit the damage done to your building this winter, and take preventative action now. For additional information on roof inspection, frozen pipes, servicing heating systems, trip and fall hazards, as well other risk management tools, view the Property Safety Resources page on the GuideOne Risk Resources for Health Care website.

 
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