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8 Ways to Prepare Your Business for Winter Storms and Extreme Cold

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With major winter storms forecasted in regions across the United States, it's important to protect your business from extreme weather events.

According to the Center for Food Security and Public Health, there a number of precautions you can take to prepare your business for winter storms and extreme cold. Here are 8 simple steps to take before a winter storm hits. 

1. Stay Informed 

Monitor for severe winter weather at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Weather Service

2. Know the terminology 

To appropriately prepare for a winter storm, you first need to know major weather terminology. Here are three terms you might hear or read in a forecast: 

  • Winter Storm Watch: Severe winter conditions, such a heavy snow and/or ice, are possible in the next 12 to 36 hours. Prepare now. 

  • Winter Storm Warning: Severe winter conditions are expected in the next 12-24 hours; 4-6 inches of snow or sleet, or 1/4 inch or more of ice is expected. Seek shelter. 

  • Blizzard Warning: Snow and strong winds (gusts up to 35 mph or greater) can produce a blinding snow (near zero visibility), deep drifts, and life threatening wind chill that is expected to occur for three hours or longer. 

3. Stock up on emergency resources

You should stock-up on emergency resources, if possible. Consider purchasing a standby electric generator for emergency power, sandbags, shovel, road salt or ice melt. 

4. Establish shelter locations on your property 

Employees and customers should be informed about shelter locations on your property. In the shelter, there should be enough room for all employees, customers and suppliers who may be at your business during the hazardous situation. Stock the shelter with emergency supplies (e.g., flashlights, battery powered radio, first aid kit, food, water, and blankets).

5. Have a business emergency or continuity plan 

Be prepared for power outages. Determine any essential equipment or processes that rely on electrical power and have emergency power or backup generators available. Maintain an inventory of all equipment and assets for your business in the event of structural damage. Install surge protectors to protect electronic equipment.

6. Determine a back-up heating source

Only use heating sources in well-ventilated rooms to avoid build up of lethal carbon monoxide gas. Also, make sure you have a fire extinguisher on hand. 

7. Use battery-powered smoke and carbon monoxide detectors 

Since the power can go out, ensure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are battery-powered and functioning. Test them monthly and replace batteries twice yearly.

8. If necessary, adjust employee hours. 

If a major storm is looming, consider whether you'll need to reschedule work hours, or encourage employees to work from home, if possible. Avoid strenuous outdoor activities and postpone nonessential tasks.

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Stay tuned to the Direct Energy Business Blog for more winter weather tips and updates. 

Updated: December 17, 2018 Posted: January 21, 2016

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