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Winter Safety Tips for Commercial Buildings

December 18, 2013

Cold weather safety


A cold snap has hit us here in Seattle! It seems like everyone is preparing their homes to help keep families protected, but what about your business? Is it prepared as well?

Here are some things to look out for!

–          Ice Dams: Snow isn’t a huge concern in Western Washington, but in Eastern Washington and many other parts of the country it is! Ice dams occur when melting snow or water freezes at the edge of the roof and prevents other melting snow from draining. The melted ice (water) gets backed up behind the “dam” and it can eventually leak into the roof, walls, insulation and more.

  • Try adding more insulation in your ceiling to help prevent ice dams from occurring.
  • Keep drains and gutters free of debris.
  • Prune trees and other vegetation that might cause leaves or debris to accumulate and clog gutters.
  • Be careful breaking ice dams, as this can damage or ruin the gutters or downspouts.

Winter safety–          Weight from snow: Snow and ice can create an increased weight on your roof, which can eventually lead to collapse.

  • If your roof is low enough, try using a rake to remove excess snow from your roof.
  • If the snow load is too big, or your roof is too tall, hire a professional to remove the excess snow for you.

–          Frozen pipes: Just as you should do in your home, be sure the pipes in your business are well insulated or heated to prevent freezing.

  • If you have a sprinkler system in your building, be sure the riser room (where the sprinkler system enters the building) has its own heat source.
  • If possible, have a secondary power source for your building. If a snow storm causes the power to go out, having a backup generator for heat can help keep pipes from freezing.

–          Snow Removal: Before it snows, find out who is responsible for clearing snow from your parking lot or the sidewalk in front of your business. Oftentimes tenants of a building are responsible for sidewalk areas and keeping snow cleared.

–          If you live in an area that receives a lot of snow, be sure to mark posts and hydrants in your parking area.  Snow drifts can pile up and make it difficult for drivers to see obstacles and curbs.

Frozen Sprinkler System

This is what can happen if a wet sprinkler system freezes.

–          Carpets and Mats: Be sure to have safe carpets and mats at the entrances to your business.  Snow melting off of shoes and boots can create slip-and-fall hazards.

–          Vacant Buildings:

  • Keep building heat to at least 40 degrees F and cover your outside faucets.
  • Leave indoor faucets dripping, just as you would at home.

–          Service your heaters—at least twice a year is recommended.



Article by: Kristen Skinner

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