Severe Winter Weather

Protect Your Property

  • Remove all snow and ice from sidewalks and entrances.
  • Remove ice dams near gutter downspouts. Ice dams can cause water build up, which can seep into your building.
  • Keep gutters free of leaves and debris so melting snow and ice move freely.
  • Maintain a minimum temperature of 65 degrees inside your building. The temperature inside the walls where pipes are located is substantially colder than the walls themselves. If you are leaving for an extended period of time, leave your heat on, set to a temperature of 55 degrees. A temperature lower than 55 degrees can cause freezing inside the walls.
  • Identify the location for the main water shutoff and find out how it works.
  • Open hot and cold faucets enough to let them drip slowly. Keep water moving within the pipe to prevent freezing.
  • Make sure all hoses are disconnected from outside spigots.
  • Watch for dead, damaged or dangerous branches that could break because of ice, snow or wind, and could damage building, a car, or injure someone walking near your property.
  • Make sure fireplaces, wood stoves, and electric heaters are working properly.
  • Close the flue in your fireplace when it’s not in use.
  • Have the water system drained by a professional if you plan to be away for an extended period of time. This will keep the pipes from freezing or bursting.

Worst Case Scenario

Sometimes even the best preparation and maintenance can’t protect your home from severe winter weather damage. If your organization happens to acquire some extensive damage due to the cold weather, here are some ways to keep the costs of repairs down to a minimum.

  • Take measures to thaw frozen pipes immediately or call a plumber for assistance. Don’t wait for the pipes to burst.
  • If a pipe bursts, turn off the water and then mop up the spills. You don’t want the water to do more damage than it already has.
  • Call your agent or insurance company as soon as you can. An insurance adjuster doesn’t need to see the spill before you take action. However, all damaged items should be saved so they can be shown to the adjuster. Take photos and make a list of damaged articles.
  • Make temporary repairs and take other steps to protect you property from further damage. Remove any carpet or furniture that can be additionally damaged from seepage.
  • Make a list of damaged articles.
Filed under Small Business Nonprofit Religious Organizations
Brian Gleason

Brian Gleason

Senior Risk Manager

Brian Gleason, MBA has spent most of the past 30 years working with and for churches, schools and nonprofits as an employee, consultant and board member. His experience includes insurance, occupational health and safety, human resources issues and emergency management. Prior to his career at GuideOne, Gleason spent 20 years as the risk manager of a university in southern California. He earned his MBA, is a Certified School Risk Manager, and speaks and writes regularly on a variety of topics related to risk management.

© 2024 GuideOne Insurance. GuideOne® is the registered trademark of the GuideOne Insurance Company. All rights reserved. This material is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to give specific legal or risk management advice, nor are any suggested checklists or action plans intended to include or address all possible risk management exposures or solutions. You are encouraged to retain your own expert consultants and legal advisors in order to develop a risk management plan specific to your own activities.