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What to do After a Winter Weather Event

Recovering from a winter storm can vary, from snow removal to repairing damage to your building or inventory.

NOTE: All do-it-yourself guidance outlined is to be completed under safe operating conditions or hire a licensed and insured contractor.


Follow these steps to recover quickly and reopen your business.

Winter Ready Business Checklist 

A checklist to make last minute prep before severe winter weather hits and to recover quickly after the event. 

1. Activate the “after-event” phase of your emergency preparedness plan

  • Make sure guests, clients, and employees are safe.
  • Be prepared to evacuate if structural damage from snow and ice makes a building unsafe.
  • Stay away from downed powerlines.
A lot of snow closed the floor of the house.

2) Begin snow and ice removal

  • Safety first! Shovel after each snowfall. Take breaks to avoid overexertion.
  • Shovel or use a snowblower to clear the parking lot and sidewalks surrounding the building free of snow and ice.
  • Keep ice melt/salt on the ground to prevent slips and falls.
  • Place non-slip mats in front of entryways to prevent slipping as employees and customers enter/exit your property.
Man using a snow blower to clear a residential driveway after a snowfall

3) Watch wintry accumulation and clean the roof

  • Monitor your roof’s snow load to ensure it does not exceed its maximum capacity (determined by a structural engineer).
  • When assessing the accumulation on the roof visually or by measuring the snow and ice equivalent keep in mind the type of snow is as important as the depth of snow.
    • There are several factors that can add to the load on a roof, including snow drifts from adjacent buildings, mechanical equipment, heavy rain on snow, and melting snow that re-freezes.
    • Fresh powder snow is typically lighter than wet packed snow, and ice is heavier than snow.
      • 12 inches of fresh/fluffy snow equals 5 lbs./sq. ft.
      • 5 inches of packed/old snow equals 5 lbs./sq. ft.
      • 1 inch of ice equals 5 lbs./sq. ft.
  • Safely remove excessive snow and ice dams using your snow removal team.
3- Determine snowload

4) Use your generator during power outages

Note: Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for proper generator use.

  • Portable Generator
    • Portable generators should be operated outside in a well-ventilated area.
    • Portable generators should never be left running unattended and should be checked periodically.
    • Portable generators should not be fueled while hot.
    • Do not let snow accumulate on top of a portable generator.
  • Permanent Generator
    • Permanent generators are more self-sufficient than portable models but should also be monitored periodically while they are in operation.
Mt Hood, OR, USA - Nov 16, 2021: A Generac mobile diesel generator owned by United Rentals is seen in a ski resort on Mount Hood, Oregon.

5) Assess your building and document any damage

  • Inside
    • Watch for signs of snow load damage, such as creaking sounds, a sagging roof, cracks in the ceiling or walls, water stains and doors or windows that no longer open and close correctly.
    • Check for flowing water from faucets. If water isn’t flowing and you suspect frozen pipes.
      • Shut off the water supply.
      • Call a plumber to make repairs for any burst pipes.
  • Outside
    • If a utility line is damaged or may become damaged, call the utility company.
    • Stay away from any downed power lines.
    • Assess downed trees or large limbs that may fall.
      • If it’s on your property, parking lot or entrance, call a tree care professional.
      • If it’s on a road or sidewalk, call your municipal public works department.
  • Document damage
    • Create a list and take photos or videos to document any property losses.
Ceiling damage from a water pipe leak in an interior ceiling from a faulty fire sprinkler system.

6) For building damage, contact your insurer and mitigate further damage

  • Contact your insurance agent as soon as possible. Have information available, such as contact information, policy number, type and date of loss, and a description of the loss and your business inventory, if you have one. You should be assigned a claim number and adjuster who will work with you. 
  • Keep all receipts and documentation for any services conducted. Consider creating an electronic file for this information in a cloud storage account so you can access it from anywhere.
  • Mitigate further damage by hiring a reputable roofer to place a tarp over your damaged roof and/or a restoration service for water removal before mold becomes an issue.
  • If it’s safe to do so and recommended by your insurer, remove property from the damaged area to a safe storage area.
Elevated overhead drone view of a flat roofed building with snow load and ventilation units. High quality photo

Seasonal Business Prep

These steps can help you to prepare your business before the winter season, no matter where you’re located.

Building Upgrades

We can’t stop the harsh winter weather, but we can prepare and strengthen our structures to defend against it.  

Before Winter Event

When defensible space is thoughtfully created and well-maintained, it will increase the likelihood your building will survive a wildfire.

After Winter Event

Follow these steps to recover quickly and reopen your business.