News and Press

Tips to Protect Your Property This Winter

December 17, 2018 -- Are you prepared for winter? With temperatures dropping and winter storms coming, the potential for property damage, business interruption, and threats to personnel safety is on the rise. Protect your facilities and employees through proactive winterization techniques to minimize your risk potential associated with severe winter weather.

Winter weather exposures fall into four primary categories -- extreme cold, heavy snow, freezing rain/sleet and high winds.  The three major goals of winterization steps are to -- winterize equipment that will be exposed to freezing temperatures, ensure adequate heat where winterization is not practical, and protect structures and utility services

Equipment that will be exposed to freezing temperatures and cannot be moved to a heated area must be adequately prepared for winter weather. While most production equipment is designed for outdoor conditions, manufacturers recommend specific steps be taken prior to the onset of cold weather to ensure safe and optimal operation. Please make sure you remain “up-to-date” on winter equipment procedures.

All heating equipment should be tested for proper operation, including combustion safety controls, including portable and supplemental heating equipment used in extreme events. Construction areas where the building envelope is incomplete or lacking insulation often need supplemental heat, and so appropriate action should be taken. Review the protocols for using this equipment each fall, and caution employees against using unauthorized heaters. Only listed temporary heaters with tip-over and other safety interlocks should be authorized. Check areas remodeled in the last nine months for adequate heat, including new drop ceilings.

Test the fire water suction tank heating system and heat for the fire pump room, including diesel block heater, in the fall. In addition, check heat and/or heat tracing in all dry pipe sprinkler rise/valve rooms.

Building structures are subject to overloading with heavy snow and freezing rain, and because of this, roof-related preparations are especially important. Ensure that all roof drains are cleared of fall leaves so melting snow will not be trapped on the roof. Make sure there is access to the roof for snow and ice clearing activities and check the flashing on all roofs.  Flashing is critical for preventing roof covering peel-back in high winds.

Utility and power-related concerns should also be considered prior to the onset of winter weather. Freezing rain and sleet can accumulate on power lines and tall structures, and when coupled with high winds, fire line failure and structural collapse of towers and utility poles can occur and impact your operations. To mitigate these effects, it is recommended to review and update power outage protocols so that procedures and processes are understood. Standby generators should be tested and winterized as appropriate. Check the securement/anchorage of roof-mounted equipment, such as antennas, satellite dishes and cooling towers. In addition, check project areas to ensure new excavations or depressions have not reduced the ground cover over water piping to dangerous levels.

For more information, please contact the Alabama Department of Risk Management at (334) 223-6120 or email