Prepare Your Property for Winter Weather

Prepare Your Property for Winter Weather
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While spring may be just around the corner, winter is still in full swing. When winter weather strikes, it is imperative to be prepared for adverse weather conditions and have a snow removal plan for your property. 

Preparing Your Property for Winter Weather

When snow and ice are in the forecast, there are several steps you can take to be prepared before the storm. These steps include:

  • Drain any irrigation systems, outside hoses or water piping that can freeze. These frozen pipes can burst as the water expands.
  • Turn off exterior faucets that could freeze or burst.  If you do not have frost-proof faucets installed, be sure to use the faucet’s shut-off valves.   
  • The flat roofs on most commercial buildings are prone to freezing, thawing, and refreezing, which can plug roof drains and add excess weight. This could lead to a potential collapse.  It may be necessary to remove snow, ensuring areas around vents and exhaust pipes are clear.
  • Wrap vulnerable pipes with insulation sleeves to keep them from freezing. If a pipe does freeze and burst, turn off the main water supply to the line immediately and leave the faucet open until repairs can be made.
  • Assess trees on the property and have a tree trimming company cut back weak tree limbs that may break off with added ice/snow weight.

Snow Removal

There are several snow removal methods, and becoming familiar with the steps to take when utilizing these methods is essential.

Shoveling Snow:
  • Do not overexert yourself. 
  • Use proper lifting techniques. Use your legs, not your back. Keep the shovel close to your body and avoid any twisting motion. 
  • Only handle an amount of snow you can comfortably lift. Use a small shovel to avoid lifting large amounts at one time.  
  • Take frequent breaks and be sure to stay hydrated.
  • Walk for a short period to warm up. Stretch the muscles in your back, legs, shoulders and arms before starting. 
  • Dress in layers.
  • Wear anti-slip and supportive shoes, or wear shoe grips attached to the base of the shoes to prevent slips. Be aware of icy areas that may be hidden below the snow layer.  
  • Cover your face and hands in extreme cold. 
  • Wear reflective, high visibility clothing.
Operating a Snowblower:
  • Follow all manufacturers’ instructions.
  • Always turn off the engine on a gas machine or unplug the motor on an electric model before clearing a clog at the auger or discharge chute. 
  • Use the clearing tool and never use your hands or feet to remove the clog. 
  • Protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning by starting and running gasoline-powered snow blowers outside rather than in your garage, shed or warehouse.
  • Don’t wear loose pants, jackets, scarves or other clothing that can get tangled in a snow blower’s moving parts.
  • Wear hearing protection, especially when operating gas-powered models.
  • Wait until a gas engine is cool before refueling. Never refuel while a snowblower is running. 
  • For electric models, use an outdoor extension cord and an outlet with ground-fault circuit-interrupter protection. Then be sure to keep the cord safely away from the spinning auger while working.
  • Dress in layers.
  • Wear anti-slip and supportive shoes, or wear shoe grips attached to the base of the shoes to prevent slips. Be aware of icy areas that may be hidden below the snow layer.  
  • Cover your face and hands in extreme cold. 
  • Wear reflective, high visibility clothing.
Plowing Snow:

There are several areas to keep in mind when plowing snow.  Some companies will contract snow plowing to a third-party vendor, while others may elect to perform this activity.  

  • If using a subcontractor, hold a pre-safety meeting to review the snow removal plan.  Utilize a contract with specific language and describe the frequency of visits and snow staging areas.
  • Snow staging areas should not be near entrances, where thaw and freeze cycles may present slip trip and fall exposures.  Consider visibility concerns that snow piles may create near roadway intersections or parking lot entrances.  
  • Identify and address potential issues, such as pavement deficiencies that may become covered by snow or roof drainage issues that can cause water to drain onto walkways. 
  • Mark fire hydrants, curb edges and/or other objects that could become obstructed after a snowfall.
  • Always wear a seat belt when operating a motor vehicle and never plow with your head out the window. 
  • When moving in reverse, don’t rely on the vehicle mirrors. Turn around and look where you’re going.  Utilize backup alarms and cameras if equipped.
  • When plowing in dirt or gravel, lower the plow shoes. This will raise the blade, so you don’t scrape the surface away. When plowing on asphalt or concrete, raise or remove the plow shoes so that you scrape as close to the surface as possible.

Questions?

In the event of a winter storm, having a plan in place for snow removal is imperative to the safety of both your organization and your property. Talk to a trusted RCM&D advisor today for more on winter weather safety and snow removal.