snow falling in the winter; prepare your nonprofit for winter weather

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Winter time is coming

As the daylight gets shorter, it’s a reminder that winter is upon us. It’s also a reminder to take some precautionary measures, now, to ensure your operation makes it through the season without suffering any of the common causes of loss.

Freezing Pipes

Many parts of the country experienced significant freezing temperatures last winter. Now is the time to:

  • Visually inspect the exterior of your building, sealing any air leaks; repairing any damage that may be found to your roof as a result of age and weather.
  • Ensure exposed pipes are wrapped with insulation – this includes pipes that may run along roof lines.
  • Water is shut off to outside spigots; hoses have been disconnected and stored.
  • Outside spigots are covered, particularly if the source of water cannot be shut off.
  • Check that all inside connections are tight; sprinkler systems have been inspected and tested.
  • During unusual cold snaps, it is recommended that a faucet is allowed to drip warm water, slowly.
  • All areas of the building should have heat, particularly when your premises may closed for extended periods such as weekends and holidays. If warranted, remove ceiling tiles to ensure piping is heated; cabinet doors are opened; attic access left open.

Ice and Snow

Snow can accumulate on roofs, in gutters, on sidewalks, stairs and drives creating lots of problems. Be sure to:

  • Have your gutters cleaned to ensure melting snow can run freely; inspect roofs and make any necessary repairs. Escaping heat can cause melting, which leads to re-freezing and the creation of ice dams that can lead to further roof and interior damage.
  • Monitor levels of falling snow; wet, heavy snow can weigh a lot, and can collapse some roofs, particularly flat roofs. Be sure your flat roofs are cleared when you have a significant snow
  • Exterior walkways and stairs are cleared; ice melt is encouraged to ensure the pathways stay clear and dry; maintain adequate lighting in all areas.
  • Monitor for water build-up in entry ways from shoes and wind. This reduces potentially dangerous conditions that could lead to slip and falls for your visitors, clients and staff.


Fire is one of the most devastating causes of loss, causing significant damage. Some tips to help reduce the potential of fire include:

  • Be sure to have your heating system inspected and serviced to ensure it is functioning optimally.
  • Test all smoke detectors to ensure all are fully functional.
  • Have any chimneys inspected and cleaned.
  • Limit or eliminate the use of portable space heaters. Where allowed, the areas must be kept clear of combustibles; the units should have an Underwriters Laboratory (UL) approval; the units should shut off automatically should they get tipped over.
  • Never allow the use of candles in business areas.
  • Never allow the use of any gas or propane heating device inside an enclosed area.
  • Limit/prohibit the use of extension cords.


Like you and your building, your Auto needs a little TLC as well. Some tips for the winter include:

  • Check tire pressures and be sure all are appropriate based on vehicle requirements
  • Windshield Washer solvent is full and a bottle is in the trunk/storage area of the vehicle.
  • Tire tread has been checked and is adequate. Worn tires should be replaced and balanced to ensure maximum performance for winter conditions.
  • Each vehicle is equipped with a snow brush and ice scraper.

A few key tasks will help ensure safety of your property, your vehicles, your clients and employees and reduce the financial hardships that losses can create.

Suggestions and comments contained herein are provided for purposes of general education only. Suggestions and comments are not intended for the purpose of providing you with legal advice or legal counsel, and are not intended to assure compliance with or complete analysis of any law, rule or regulation. In addition, suggestions and comments should not be interpreted to imply or infer that all exposures, hazards or loss potentials on any subject or issue were identified or considered. No warranty, or guaranty of accuracy, fitness or suitability, express or implied, is granted with respect to any of the information contained herein.

Products and services are provided by one or more insurance company subsidiaries of W. R. Berkley Corporation. Not all products and services are available in every jurisdiction, and the precise coverage afforded by any insurer is subject to the actual terms and conditions of the policies as issued.