Buildings, Bundle Up!

Many facilities are standing empty or are only partially in use due to the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean they are exempt from the effects of winter weather. Proper care and maintenance strategies can drastically reduce the wear and tear inflicted on property by winter conditions and can go a long way towards preventing costly property damage claims.

Each organization should have an established plan for winter weatherization tailored to the needs of their facilities. Plans should include a system of thorough and efficient checks that are completed well in advance of winter weather. Location-specific checklists that are completed before a certain deadline are a great way to get started. Consider using the following list to develop your essential winter weather preparation plan or to augment a plan that is already in place.

Facility Exteriors

This is often the first item that comes to mind regarding winter weather preparation, as it is the first to be affected by outdoor conditions and often bears the brunt of most seasonal wear and tear.

Building Envelope

Defects in the building exterior, or “envelope,” can allow heat to escape in colder months, resulting in costly heating bills, and possibly create places where leaks and other damage may occur.


Water damage and collapse are serious threats to roofs. Before winter hits:


Gutters may be as mundane as it gets, but they are crucial systems for protecting roofs and facilities from water damage. Properly functioning gutters divert seasonal precipitation down established channels in ways that reduce the likelihood of erosion, seepage, and other types of damage.

Entrances and Exits

These are usually the biggest culprits for letting outdoor conditions indoors, frequently letting in gusts of cold air into facilities, and primary locations for tracked in snow and ice on floors.

Facility Interiors

Though interiors are less obviously impacted by winter weather than exteriors, they can still sustain damage due to winter conditions if not properly maintained. Inspect and conduct maintenance repairs on all of the following systems before winter sets in:

Power Systems

The likelihood of weather-related power incidents increases during winter months. Take the following steps to prepare:

Walking Surfaces

Slips, trips, and falls are one of the most common and costly liability claims and are at a higher likelihood of occurring in winter. Consider the following to ensure your sidewalks, curbs, parking lots, and other walking surfaces do not become the location of an incident.

Snow and Ice Removal

It is important to inspect all walkways for cracks, holes, crumbling edges, and other defects so that they can be repaired before they become covered with snow and ice. If left unaddressed, these elements can become even more hazardous because conditions will be slick and pedestrians will not be able to see them. It is also recommended to have procedures in place to address the following tasks once snow and ice set in:


Each year hundreds of preventable deaths and injuries result from winter conditions. Frostbite, hypothermia, and heart attacks (frequently due to over-exertion from shoveling snow) are not uncommon, in addition to the myriad injuries that can result from a slip, trip, or fall incident. Implement any measures needed to protect employees from these risks this winter, especially if staff must perform work outdoors.


Closing Thoughts

As a final note, develop protocols to ensure buildings are receiving adequate heat, especially those standing vacant or temporarily vacant over a period of several days, and that there are procedures in place for proper response to winter storms and periods of extreme cold. It’s not just people that need to bundle up in winter months! If you have any questions regarding this material, please contact your broker or risk manager. Information for this article was obtained from the following sources:

Winter Facility Preparation Checklist

6 Ways To Prepare Your Facility For Winter

Six Steps to Prepare Your Facility for Winter

Tribal Risk Management: Winter Loss Control Tips

The Hard, Cold facts of Winter Loss Prevention

National Weather Service Winter Safety Tips