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Preparing Properties for Winter

11/10/2020 Written by: Brad Hagey

With summer now officially behind us, it is time to start preparing for the fall / winter seasons. Cooler temperatures in certain parts of the country are already dipping to 32 degrees at night. Leaves are changing colors and falling from trees.

Before the snow arrives, fall clean up and preventive maintenance can help prevent future injuries, damages or expenses. These preventative measures include:

  • Clean out debris from gutters and flower beds to avoid buildup, and to prevent any potential nesting area for critters
  • Check trees for any dead branches and have them removed
  • Dry out hoses and fountains to avoid any freezing and cracking
  • Have sprinkler system lines blown out and make sure the back flow is covered; this will help prevent damage and extra costs if pipes were to burst due to low temperatures
  • Rake up leaves and give the grass one last mow. Leaves can become slippery when wet and cause slip and fall hazards

Along with the colder temperatures, wintertime also brings increased gas and electric bills. There are some ways to help prevent and reduce some of those costs. Measures to take include:

  • Remove screens and install storm windows (if possible)
  • Install weather stripping around windows and doors to prevent air leaks
  • Seal any gaps or holes around entry points with a suitable caulk
  • Hire a professional to inspect the heating system(s) to ensure it is working properly as well as change the air filter
  • Install a digital programmable thermostat 

Should a snow removal be contracted out to a snow removal company or should it be handled in house by the maintenance staff? Hiring a company to remove snow / ice can:

  • Lower general liability costs by transferring liability to the snow removal company
  • Reduce / prevent injuries to staff
  • Reduce expenses by eliminating the cost to buy and maintain snow removal equipment
  • Reduce the number of hours the staff spends removing snow

If a snow removal company is engaged to provide plowing and salting:

  • Get several bids to ensure the best quality and price
  • Review the contract, making sure it contains an indemnification clause and hold-harmless for work performed by the snow removal company
  • Secure insurance certificates with general liability and workers compensation insurance
  • Ask about how they schedule and the number clients they serve
  • Secure references

If you choose to have snow removal done in-house, now is a good time to:

  • Check the truck and plows to make sure they are good working condition
  • Check the snowblowers and shovels to ensure they will be ready for the wintery season
  • Order salt or sand for sidewalks and walkways
  • Inspect gutters to make sure they are not clogged or broken or missing
  • Inspect entryway door mats for any wears and tears that could be a potential issue
  • Train the staff on safety issues, and set guidelines for clothing and types of footwear that is required

Whatever your decision is on how to remove snow/ice, now is the time to address this issue. With fall in full swing, and winter right around the corner, a company needs to be ready for the snow removal challenges. Real estate owners owe it to their tenants, residents and guests to have a solid plan for snow removal to prevent any injuries caused by slipping on wet snow. 

At AssuredPartners, we pride ourselves in helping our clients with a variety of services to protect their assets including loss prevention. To learn more, contact our team of real estate insurance and risk management professionals.

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