Winter Storm Action Plan


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We, as organizations and individuals, will likely face unexpected emergencies — both natural and man-made. It is vital to have a crisis management plan in place in order to protect yourself, your employees and customers, and your business facilities, as well as your company’s reputation.

As a leading property and casualty insurer, Liberty Mutual Insurance has the resources and expertise to provide tailored domestic and multinational insurance and risk management solutions to meet business-specific needs, regardless of a company’s size or location. To learn more about any of our other products and services, please contact your agent or broker or visit

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Winter Storm Action Plan

  1. 1. WINTER STORM ACTION PLAN CRISIS MANAGEMENT Winter Storm Action Plan As a leading property and casualty insurer, Liberty Mutual Insurance has the resources and expertise to provide tailored domestic and multinational insurance and risk management solutions to meet business-specific needs, regardless of a company’s size or location. To learn more about any of our other products and services, please contact your agent or broker. We, as organizations and individuals, will likely face unexpected emergencies — both natural and man-made. It is vital to have a crisis management plan in place in order to protect yourself, your employees and customers, and your business facilities, as well as your company’s reputation. Winter storms can be devastating, causing those affected to lose their homes, property, pets and even their lives. Winter storms can start abruptly and continue for days, quickly covering vast expanses of land; however, the regions that they hit are predictable, affording significant time for preparation. Since winter storms are a reality of nature, it is wise to be as prepared as possible in the event that a winter storm threatens your business. Following the procedures outlined in this brochure will aid in developing a crisis management plan. It does not, however, contemplate every potential for loss or damage and you should review your particular situation in an effort to identify all appropriate steps and precautions to minimize the risk of winter storms. No undertaking is intended or assumed by Liberty Mutual Insurance by this publication, as it is for informational purposes only.
  2. 2. WINTER STORM ACTION PLAN Pre-Winter Storm Preparation Step 1: Secure Supplies and Information Ensure emergency supplies and equipment are on hand and ready for the on-site emergency action team. Obtain cash for post-winter storm needs such as buying food and supplies or paying employees and contractors. Winter Storm Emergency Kit ■■ ■■ ■■ ■■ First aid kit. Include prescription medications, over-the-counter painkillers, rubbing alcohol, eye wash kit, and vomit-inducing medicine (in case of accidental poisoning) Water and nonperishable food — a three-day supply Emergency lighting. Include flashlights with extra batteries Whistles. Whistles can be used to signal and direct attention during and after a winter storm ■■ ■■ ■■ ■■ Battery- or crank-powered radio Walkie-talkies and/or cellular phones (with spare batteries) ■■ Blankets and extra clothing ■■ Hand and power tools ■■ ■■ Batteries ■■ ■■ Plastic covers and tarpaulins All employees, vendors, and clients’ contact information on hand Sand and rock salt or ice melt Snow shovels or other snow removal equipment Portable pumps and hoses ■■ Protect and/or relocate vital records off site. Include business and customer records, utility plans, etc. Emergency Contacts Fire Department _______________________________________________________________________________________ Police Department _____________________________________________________________________________________ Insurance Agent/Broker _________________________________________________________________________________ Building Owner ________________________________________________________________________________________ HVAC Contractor ______________________________________________________________________________________ Electrician ____________________________________________________________________________________________ Plumber _____________________________________________________________________________________________ Other _______________________________________________________________________________________________
  3. 3. WINTER STORM ACTION PLAN Pre-Winter Storm Preparation Step 2: Inspect and Fortify Facility Check your procedure for restoring electrical services on an item-by-item basis Shut down all noncritical and nonessential electrical equipment During a winter storm evacuation, consider your phone lines — redirection to cell phones or an answering service could be critical Maintain an inventory of all equipment and assets for your business, in the event of structural damage Maintain and test standby electric generator(s) for emergency power Determine if portable heaters or other emergency equipment is needed Determine if there are alternative ways to enter your premises if snow or ice prohibits access to your business Make sure heating and heat-producing process equipment is in good condition and operating efficiently Check/maintain/test all necessary backup equipment such as emergency generators, communication systems/devices, snowblowers, etc. Verify that all fire-protection equipment is in service Fill the fuel tanks of generators, fire pumps, and all company-owned vehicles Maintain automatic sprinkler protection in idle buildings: promptly handle sprinkler system impairments; notify the local fire department regarding any issues Monitor building temperatures especially in hard-to-heat areas; keep temperatures above 40°F Determine your greatest risk potential — loss of heat, frozen pipes, and/or loss of access due to snow/ice Identify who is responsible for snow/ice removal from driveways, doorways, and roofs (business owner or landlord) Determine what equipment needs to be protected from freezing up (e.g., computers, telecommunications, manufacturing equipment, etc.) Identify where cold air can enter and seal all openings with caulking and insulation Repair walls and roofs to prevent drafts; inspect roof drains for debris Make sure storm windows are effective Drain all idle pumps and compressors, making sure jackets are vented Develop procedures to be followed if you lose heat or electricity Determine which processes depend on continued building heat for safety (i.e., processes that are subject to solidification or runaway reactions) and need prompt attention If a winter storm watch is in effect, pay close attention to radio and television reports from the National Weather Service. If a winter storm warning is issued or if storm conditions have started near you, take immediate action to ensure the safety of yourself, your employees, your customers and your business. Identify which outside vendors and repair services you will need to restore your operation after a storm. It is often advisable to go outside your local area to find services that will not be affected by the same storm as your locality. Ensure the contingency plan is up to date in the event that a winter storm disrupts production or other business operations
  4. 4. WINTER STORM ACTION PLAN Employee Safety During a Winter Storm If Employees Work Outdoors ■■ Avoid strenuous activities outdoors ■■ Postpone nonessential tasks Roof Work on Snow-Covered Roofs Develop a plan for roof work under these special conditions Establish a plan for elevating mechanized snow removal equipment to the roof Determine what special tools, equipment, protective devices, clothing, and footwear will be needed, and make sure all the necessary gear is on hand and ready to use Identify what types of fall protection will be needed. Guardrails, nets, or a personal fall-arrest system for each worker may be necessary, depending on roof configuration and any fall protection already installed. Determine if there are special hazards on the roof that may be hidden from view by the snow. Before snow falls, mark skylights, roof drains, vents, and other hazards or obstructions so that workers will be able to see and avoid them. Develop a plan for keeping all roof access points clear of snow Teach workers the warning signs of overexposure and hypothermia Read, understand, and follow all manufacturers’ instructions for the safe use of snow blowers and similar mechanical equipment Ensure that powered equipment is not used within 10 feet of any roof edge Check with a roofing contractor before using mechanized equipment on the roof to ensure the equipment will not damage the roof membrane Instruct workers to operate equipment at reduced speeds if there are slippery roof conditions Melting the snow in lieu of removing it may cause localized overloading of the roof. Check with a structural engineer before using water or a heating device to melt the snow. Risk reduction in roof snow removal can be achieved with thorough preparation, trained workers, fall protection, well-maintained equipment designed for the work, and a healthy respect for the outdoor elements. Protect other employees, visitors, and pedestrians by securing the entire work area, including the ground directly underneath the roof’s edge. Falling ice, snow, and materials could cause serious harm to third parties.
  5. 5. WINTER STORM ACTION PLAN Procedures During a Winter Storm Staying Prepared Keep the names and phone numbers of your HVAC contractor, plumber, fire department, and building owner easily accessible. Step 1: Immediate Actions If advised by authorities to evacuate, do so immediately. Take your emergency kit and lock your business; choose a travel route away from the winter storm path. If you are not ordered to evacuate: Make sure employees and on-site customers are accounted for and safe Outdoors: Keep driveways, walkways, and doorways clear of snow and ice Patrol the property when safe to do so and watch for pipe breakage, or structural damage Indoors: Open water faucets slightly to let them drip in order to keep water flowing through the pipes that are vulnerable to freezing. Ice may still form, but the open faucet helps prevent the pipe from bursting by allowing relief for any built-up pressure. Constantly monitor any boilers that must remain online. During a power failure, turn off electrical switches to prevent reenergizing of equipment until necessary checks are completed During Cold Spells: Provide approved portable heaters for vulnerable areas that might fall below 40°F Do not use open flame devices to thaw frozen pipes or equipment Use tarps to erect temporary windbreaks. For a permanent windbreak, consider planting evergreen trees and hedges upwind (prevailing winter wind direction) of vulnerable buildings and equipment. Step 2: Ongoing Actions Continue ensuring employee and customer safety Be mindful of indoor safety. If backup power supplies are needed, do not use an electric generator indoors, inside a garage, or near building air intakes, because of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Do not store gasoline indoors, as the fumes could ignite Use individual heavy-duty, outdoor-rated cords to plug in other appliances Assign someone to check indoor temperatures should your place of business be vacant for long periods of time
  6. 6. WINTER STORM ACTION PLAN Post-Winter Storm Procedures Step 1: Immediate Actions Do not move seriously injured individuals. If high-rise buildings are in the general area, falling debris may make staying in open areas more dangerous than remaining inside the buildings. Watch out for fallen power lines and broken gas lines. Provide search and rescue personnel with the last known location of any missing victim(s) Stay away from power lines, buildings, and any objects that might fall Secure the site and hire a guard service, if necessary Make sure heating systems and water pipes are working, and close water faucets Visually check for open bus bars, conductors, and exposed insulators before reenergizing electrical systems Clear roof drains and debris from roofs Determine how you will assist individuals who have special needs, such as disabled persons Clear away the snow and ice from driveways, walkways, and doorways Step 2: Recovery Actions Survey facilities for damage; if damage has occurred, contact the Liberty Mutual Claims Service Center at 800-259-2184 as soon as possible. Take photographs of the damage. Look for safety hazards such as live electrical wires, leaking gas, flammable liquids, corrosive/toxic materials, and damage to foundations or underground piping Repair automatic sprinkler protection and/or water supplies to get fire protection back in service as soon as possible. Use Liberty Mutual Fire Protection Impairment Procedures whenever sprinkler protection and/or water supplies are impaired. Contact Liberty Mutual at 800-541-5224 to report impairments to fire protection systems or for assistance in restoring systems. Following the storm, assess damage and notify all critical personnel (management, contractors, etc.) of next steps Restore fire protection systems, if necessary Control smoking and use Hot Work Permits where applicable. Maintain fire-safe conditions at all times. Make regular temperature and windchill checks to protect workers from overexposure to the cold Rotate workers to reduce their individual exposures to cold and to prevent back injuries from shoveling snow Contact key personnel and notify contractors to start repairs. ■■ Cover broken windows and damaged roof coverings immediately. ■■ Separate damaged goods from materials that can still be used. ■■ If there has been a power failure, check refrigerated items for spoilage. Limit access to freezers and refrigerated areas during periods of interrupted electrical service to maintain the colder temperatures for as long as possible.
  7. 7. WINTER STORM ACTION PLAN Winter Storm Information Important Terms Winter Storm Watch: Severe winter conditions, such as heavy snow and/or ice, are possible within your area 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 ¼ inch or more of ice is expected. Stay indoors. Blizzard Warning: Snow and strong winds (gusts up to 35 mph or greater) will combine to produce a blinding snow (near zero visibility), deep drifts, and life-threatening windchill temperatures; these conditions are expected to occur for three hours or longer. Seek refuge immediately. Winter Weather Advisory: Winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous, especially to motorists. If caution is exercised these conditions should not become life-threatening. Frost/Freeze Warning: Below-freezing temperatures are expected and may cause damage to plants, crops, or fruit trees. Equivalent Snow Load Table The table below is a guide that combines live load design (lbs/ft2) and the density (lbs/ft3) of the accumulating snow, ice, or water to determine when to take corrective action. For example, a roof designed to handle a snow load of 20 lbs/ft2 could possibly withstand 11.5 inches of heavy wet snow. Therefore, you should remove snow from the roof (if it is safe to do so) when it reaches approximately 6 inches. Density Information Light/Dry Snow Heavy/Wet Snow Ice Water Density (lbs/ft3) 3.12 20.81 57.25 62.43 % of Water Weight 5% 33% 92% 100% Equivalent Inches of Precipitation Light/Dry Snow (in.) Design Load (lbft ) 2 Depth Clean Roof At Heavy/Wet Snow (in.) Depth Ice (in.) Clean Roof At Depth Water Depth Clean Roof At 5 19.2 10 2.9 1.5 1.0 .5 1 10 38.4 19 5.8 3 2.1 1 1.9 15 57.7 28 8.6 4 3.1 1.5 2.9 20 76.9 38 11.5 6 4.2 2 3.8 25 96.1 48 14.4 7 5.2 2.5 4.8 For More Information on Winter Storms: • • • • No duty or undertaking is intended or assumed by Liberty Mutual Insurance by this publication, as it is informational in purpose. Insurance underwritten by Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., Boston, MA, or its affiliates or subsidiaries. ©2013 Liberty Mutual Group. All rights reserved. 175 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA 02116. CI1351 11/13