As most of the United States heads into colder weather, it’s a good idea for facilities managers to make sure their organizations are ready for the challenges and weather concerns of winter. From cold temperatures to ice and snow storms, being prepared for what the cold weather can bring will help to get through winter with as little damage or wear and tear as possible.
Here are some tips to help you make sure your facilities are winterized and ready to go.
1. Inspect heating systems
For your facility to function optimally, the temperature will need to be maintained during the cooler weather. This is a great time to take a look at your heating system. If you take care of maintenance on your own, then go ahead and schedule someone to go through your maintenance routine. Make sure to look for any worn or damaged parts, and clean out accumulated dust or dirt. If you use a furnace maintenance service, schedule a cleaning through them.
2. Prepare machinery that functions outside
If some of your machinery needs to work outside in the cold, consult the manuals regarding what should be done to winterize the vehicles. Fluids may need to be changed or topped off. Additionally, you may keep the gas tank half full or more during cold weather use. Many types of machinery may need to run for a certain amount of time to heat internal components before they are placed under load, so verify your specific requirements. If more time will be needed for the machinery to be heated in the mornings, plan this time into your daily routine.
3. Look at building exteriors
Are there trees with broken or cracked branches? Is the parking lot showing damage from summer rain that will be made worse by the expansion of ice or snow? Have tree branches grown long enough that they’re over or under power lines and at risk of the branches damaging them?
It can be very difficult to get this sort of work done once winter sets in. Schedule it now so that you will have fewer things to worry about once the cold weather hits.
4. Plan for weather emergencies
From intense snow storms to ice storms, weather emergencies you need to consider depend, to some degree, on where your facility is located. Ice tends to be a bigger threat in the north, where there are many resources for handling snow. In the south, snow can quickly become overwhelming.
If your facility uses generators, test them to make sure they’re operational and ready to take over if necessary. Make sure that all emergency manuals or materials are available even if the power’s out. This means that physical copies are easily available in multiple locations.
Consider at what point your facility will shut down due to weather, and what conditions you will plan to work through. Talk to your employees so that they’re aware and can also plan ahead. If your company has policies about employees missing work due to inclement weather, review these with your employees.
5. Plan for what to do during an actual storm
Who keeps sidewalks and entryways clear and clean? If the power goes out, how will you keep your facility’s temperature over 40 degrees Fahrenheit to make sure sensitive equipment isn’t damaged? Again, considering these questions ahead of time means less confusion when you inevitably need the answers.
Culturally, we look at winter and think of frosted windows, soft snow banks, and bundled up children going sledding. As a facility, there’s a darker side to winter, but if you plan ahead and manage the various concerning factors, much of the stress of winter can be removed.