Protecting Your Business Premises from Winter Weather Conditions

The Christmas break is almost upon us and while we’re sure that you’re longing for a little respite from those frosty 6am starts and tedious pre-holiday ‘strategy’ meetings, the idea of leaving your premises unoccupied for a week may be a niggling worry, especially if your empty premises have been subjected to cold weather conditions before.

Preparing your business and residential premises doesn’t necessarily have to be an expensive task however, with pre-emptive measures being both low-cost and effective. Of course a large site may require a professional environmental consultancy, but with our simple guide you can address preventative measures using minimal time and resources.

business owner on snowy business premise
Prepare yourself – and your business premise – for a worry-free Christmas break

Consider the practicalities of remote working

Some workers simply cannot operate off-site, but many organisations have to ensure that their services can still be delivered in poor weather or if the normal business premises cannot operate. Unfortunately while remote working might not be physically possible for a courier company, you may find there are procedures your staff can carry out at home, especially from a customer services perspective.

Procedures to consider:

  • Ensure you can access your website and social media accounts to make any customers/suppliers aware of any issues restricting normal business operation.
  • Equip key members of staff with a company mobile, this way, you can provide contact numbers across your website and social media if your business premises are out of bounds.
  • Be aware of any contractual obligations, restrictions or ambiguities.
  • Check any software or company emails your employees may need and issue them with a company laptop if needed.

Flood risk

For some of us seasonal flood risk is a distinct worry, but if your business premises are located anywhere near a body of water, then the threat of heavy rain probably concerns you throughout the year.

The Environmental Agency found that flooding cost the UK economy up to £600 million in 2012, a figure we’re sure doesn’t come as too much of a shock if your business or residential premises are located in an area which was affected.

In the town of Glossop, Derbyshire, you’ll be hard pressed to find a property that doesn’t have a gleaming new front door after the awful flooding in 2002. Of course this astronomical figure doesn’t just account for contents damage, but also the number of working days lost due to premises being uninhabitable.

Risk preparation:

  • Use the Environment Agency’s website to determine your flood risk level by postcode. You may have little to worry about, but if your area is high risk, you can find useful information here.
  • It is also useful to use this resource if you are thinking of relocating to an area you think may be high-risk.
  • It goes without saying that comprehensive insurance is a must for any business, but ensure your policy covers you in the event of flooding.
  • Invest in door-frame flood barriers – these adapt to various door sizes and can be fitted quickly. Door flood barriers can be purchased from a range of online retailers and put in place before you leave your business.
  • Stock up on flood bags, which are much easier to store than sand bags and inflate automatically when in contact with water.
  • Before leaving for the Christmas break, review your storage system to ensure anything of valuable is raised from the ground.
  • If you have a large site, then enlisting the services of an environmental consultancy and commissioning assessments and preventative reports will ensure you are prepared should the worst happen.
  • When water backs up from the sewage system it can be devastating to a property and very detrimental to your health when the unpleasant clean up task commences. Fitting a non-return valve closes the drain when it backflows, protecting your property and staff from any foul flooding.
ice dam
Melting ice dam can cause troubles to your business premise, such as leaks, even flood – photo credit

Prevention measures when flooding is likely:

  • If your business has a vehicle fleet, move them to a storage area with a lower flood risk.
  • Air bricks and vents are vital for building ventilation, but if flood risk is imminent, covers are available from most online flood protection specialists.
  • Turn off your gas and electricity supply.
  • Don’t hang around. Your personal safety should come above anything else.

Pipes freezing

Just like in a domestic property, keeping your heating on low when you’ll be away is recommended, but ensure you’re not missing any simple tricks for safeguarding your pipes.

Preventative measures:

  • Insulate your pipes
  • Know where your stop cock is in case of a burst pipe. It sounds simple, but this will save a lot of stress if water is damaging your property.
  • Ensure no drafts are entering your property, cold air can effect hot and cold water pipes.

If your pipes freeze:

  • Turn off the water at the mains.
  • It is always wise to enlist the help of an experienced plumber, especially if the frozen pipes are located near to electrical equipment or a gas supply. Don’t try to do any DIY defrosting yourself as this can lead to bursting.
  • On the advice of a plumber, it may be suitable to drain the system by turning the water off and allow the taps to run out. Of course, this can seem wasteful, but if freezing is a serious risk, then this may be a recommended option.

About the Author: Victoria is an environmental writer for REC Resource and Environmental Consultants Ltd. For more information about corporate environmental services, please get in touch with our nationwide teams.