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
This document is intended for general information purposes only, and should not be construed as advice or opinions on any specific facts or circumstances. The content of this document is made available on an “as is” basis, without warranty of any kind. This document can’t be assumed to contain every acceptable safety and compliance procedures or that additional procedures might not be appropriate under the circumstances. Markel does not guarantee that this information is or can be relied on for compliance with any law or regulation, assurance against preventable losses, or freedom from legal liability. This publication is not intended to be legal, underwriting, or any other type of professional advice. Persons requiring advice should consult an independent adviser. Markel does not guarantee any particular outcome and makes no commitment to update any information herein, or remove any items that are no longer accurate or complete. Furthermore, Markel does not assume any liability to any person or organization for loss of damage caused by or resulting from any reliance placed on that content.

*Markel Specialty is a business division of Markel Service, Incorporated, the underwriting manager for the Markel affiliated insurance companies.
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