Putting safety first for wintry weather

frozen pipe

A heavy load of snow and ice may not only damage your roof, it can also cause damage to your building, awnings, and equipment. After a snow storm, inspect your roof and awnings from the ground. Snow removal can be a dangerous job, so don't attempt to remove it yourself. Snow falling from awnings can also be a hazard to visitors entering your building, so it’s a good idea to contact a contractor in advance of inclement weather and outline your expectations for early snow removal.

Pipes are another concern during frigid temperatures.

Keep pipes from freezing or bursting by:

  • Continuing to heat your building while it is unoccupied, especially for long periods of time.
  • Insulating any exposed pipes.
  • Letting faucets drip so that a trickle of water continues to move through the pipes.
  • Opening doors to unheated rooms with exposed pipes to distribute heat from other areas. Hiring a plumber to inspect pipes prior to the start of the winter season is the best preventive measure.

Electric space heaters are a popular choice as temperatures fall. Used incorrectly, they can quickly turn into a fire or burn hazard.

Follow these recommendations for the safe use of portable heaters.

  • Place heaters on the floor at least three feet from objects such as curtains, papers, and furniture. Never place heaters on furniture.
  • Never leave a space heater unsupervised when children are present.
  • Do not use heaters in wet or moist places, such as bathrooms. Corrosion or other damage in the heater may lead to a fire or shock hazard.
  • Do not hide cords under rugs or carpets. Placing anything on top of the cord can cause the cord to overheat, leading to a fire.
  • Do not use an extension cord with a space heater.
  • Be sure the plug fits snugly into the outlet. If the plug feels hot, unplug the heater and have a qualified repair shop check for problems.
  • Broken heaters should be repaired by a qualified service center. Do not attempt to repair, adjust, or replace parts yourself.
  • Do not use portable electric heaters manufactured prior to 1991. New heaters have safety enhancements to prevent burn injuries and reduce the risk of fire.
frozen pipe
The information provided in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as all encompassing, or suitable for all situations, conditions, and environments. Please contact us at losscontrol@markel.com or your attorney if you have any questions. The article may not be linked to, copied, reproduced, republished, posted, or distributed in any way by non-policyholders of Markel®, without permission.