Protecting Property through Winter’s Wild Weather
We’re about halfway through the winter season and at least one inch of snow has already fallen in all 50 U.S. states. This winter has been a wild one, from the town of Erie, Pennsylvania getting hit with a whopping 63 inches of snow over four days, to three snowfalls in Florida, a.k.a. Sunshine State.
According to The Weather Channel, winter may still have a lot in store for us, with the peak of winter storm season just around the corner. The end of January and the beginning of February can have some high impact winter storms. Several monster winter storms have occurred in this period, including two major blizzards in 1978 and, more recently, Winter Storms Juno and Niko. To help businesses continue to stay prepared throughout the winter season, XL Catlin’s Risk Engineering/GAPS team offers some guidance.
Get Ahead of the Next Winter Storm
Have a maintenance plan that ensures various controls, safety devices, shut down mechanisms and alarms work as intended. Arrange for adequate fuel and other supplies to be available. Plan for extra personnel or security services during prolonged cold periods. Detect and repair all damaged or leaking equipment as soon as possible. Here are some additional items for your Winterizing Tool Kit:
- Inspect heating systems
- Winterize cooling systems
- Calibrate thermostats and reduce set points
- Change air filters
- Inspect doors and windows
- Clean gutters
- Select good entrance mats
- Inspect exterior faucets, irrigation systems
- Repair sidewalk cracks
- Check the roof and attics for loose shingles
- Prepare for power outages
- Prepare employees for working from home
Now is the time to protect the property aspects of your operations. Preparing ahead of time will drastically reduce the potential for frozen pipes, loss of power or the catastrophe of a collapsed roof due to snow load. Whether it’s freezing conditions or snow loads, XL Catlin’s Property Risk Engineering/GAPS can assist you with winterizing your property.
Snow Loading: A Concern for All
Different parts of the world have varied concerns for snow accumulation. Buffalo, New York and Oslo, Norway are fairly astute at dealing with snow. Atlanta, Georgia and Athens, Greece do not have that local knowledge. However, everyone has the same concern for extra weight on top of a building. At XL Catlin, we encourage clients to predetermine a snow depth on the roof that prompts site personnel to investigate and begin the process of removing snow.
XL Catlin’s Property Risk Engineering/GAPS has also been reviewing wireless sensor technology developed by a Texas, USA-based entrepreneur in cooperation with the University of Texas at San Antonio that can monitor the weight of snow, rain or ice that may be accumulating on the roof. This can be monitored in real time to act not only before a collapse but also before there is a competition for snow removal resources.
For more information, XL Catlin’s Property Risk Engineering/GAPS team see their snow load guidelines.
During the Polar Vortex that the US experienced in early 2014, fire service news feeds reported seeming hourly on sprinkler system leaks caused by freezing pipes. Most of these losses were below insurance deductibles, but were an unwanted expense and inconvenience. Some of the most common causes of losses from freezing include:
- Open windows, doors or skylights
- Failure of a heating system during the night or on weekends when the facility is unoccupied
- Heating systems set too low during a weekend or holiday period
- Heating system thermostats located in the wrong areas
- Failure of low temperature alarms
- Severe snow or sleet storms causing electric power failures that led to heating system and alarm failures
- Liquid systems installed in new construction before the heating system or other protective measure were ready
Other resources for your Winterizing Tool Kit
XL Catlin is a member of The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), an independent, nonprofit, scientific research and communications organization supported solely by property insurers and reinsurers. IBHS’ building safety research leads to real-world solutions for home and business owners, helping to create more resilient communities. Here’s some helpful research-backed guidance from IBHS:
For additional information on preventing winter losses, reach out to one of our Regional Risk Engineering Leaders.