Ice and snow can wreak havoc on a small business, not only from lost commerce because of hazardous road conditions and a drop in customer traffic, but also from structural damage to roofs, gutters, parking lots, sidewalks and other property. And damage can get worse, even after the ice has long melted away.
“We are now recovering from winter and are really into preparing for spring,” said Jim Gustin, a Charlotte-based senior property specialist in the risk control department of Travelers International Property and Casualty Insurance. “This is the time small-business owners should look to make sure their building and their property are in good shape and look for ways to minimize any damage that has occurred.”
Here are Gustin’s ideas on mitigating today’s damages and warding off future problems.
▪ Spring normally brings more wet weather. Examine the roof’s flashing and edging and make sure gutters, downspouts and roof drains are clear. If your roof is flat, look for places where there may be ponding. Direct drainage away from the building’s foundation.
▪ Check underneath the roof and in the attic for cracks. Inspect drywall and interior ceilings for the water spots or staining that indicate leaks.
▪ Look for holes and uneven or hazardous walking surfaces around the building, especially places where plows, shovels, salt or other chemicals were used. If you lease your building, make sure you know who is responsible for repairs under the terms of your lease.
▪ Take action to prevent pipes from freezing in the future. Insulate them or move them to a protected location.
▪ Make sure your basement sump pump is working properly and have a plan to keep it running if the power goes out.
▪ Have a business continuity plan, including a list of threats and risks, and a business impact analysis. A winter weather checklist and a set of controls for risk mitigation are also helpful.
When winter rolls around, owners can count on problems caused by frigid temperatures. But with careful planning, ongoing building maintenance and risk-management practices, owners can weather the roughest conditions the seasons can dish out.
Reach Teri Saylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @terisaylor.