Winterize Your Business!

The Small Business Administration recently offered a seminar covering weather forecasts for the upcoming winter months and how to prepare your business for a weather-related emergency.  Both a one-hour webinar (you will have to register but the webinar is free) and presentation are available.

But if you’re pressed for time, here are a few highlights that I think are relevant to Texas businesses.

Weather in Texas:

  • temperatures in Texas are projected to be milder than last year (trending 1 to 3 degrees F warmer than average);
  • precipitation will remain below normal; and
  • there is an elevated risk for a hard freeze along the gulf coast and an elevated risk for freezing rains and icing in North Texas (including the Metroplex).

Potential Impacts/key things to note:

  • Texas may enjoy mild temps this winter but if you have a key supplier in the Midwest or Northeast—areas expected to have higher than average snowfall— you might want to take a few moments to assess the impact of a disruption in your supply chain and do some contingency planning.
  • Biggest challenge in a regional weather event: communication!
  • Fires and floods are common during and after winter storms and the winter snowfall season:
    • space heater- and undermaintained furnace-based fires are common; and
    • flooding occurs due to pipes bursting and heavy snowfall, which causes spring flooding throughout the south.

What can you do?

  • Review your insurance coverage.  Do you have enough property coverage?  Do you have business interruption coverage?  Do you have flood insurance?  Do you have enough general liability coverage?  What coverage does your property management company carry – where does your liability begin?
  • Determine the top 2 or 3 risks you have and create a simple contingency plan.
  • Document/understand your electrical load demands and establish a procedure for restoring power in the event of a power loss (do you need generators?).
  • Establish an inclement weather attendance policy BEFORE you need one.
  • Top off key company vehicles (and generators) with gas before a winter storm hits (remember, gas stations are on electric pumps – you can’t get gas quickly if everyone, including service stations, has lost power).

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