As Midwesterners, we sometimes joke about how unpredictable the weather can be. In the last few years, strong weather events like multiple derechos, record flooding, and bitterly cold temperatures have reinforced this notion. According to the EPA, with rising global temperatures, there are indications that these extreme weather events may become more and more common. As a business owner, the best thing you can do is to plan ahead for both natural disasters and everyday workplace hazards to ensure you are prepared for any catastrophe.
Common Workplace Hazards
Although the chances that a natural disaster will occur in your specific area at a given time may seem slim, other threats to your day-to-day productivity are more common and can disrupt your business operations. When working in shared office spaces or buildings, disaster often affects many businesses at the same time. Although you can’t control others, here are some common hazards to be aware of and steps you can take to help lessen the chances of catastrophe for your company.
Office places can become a breeding ground for germs and illness, especially in the winter. With the continued spread of COVID-19, ensure your company has policies in place for exposures and plans for multiple employees to work in a shared space safely. Check out our comprehensive guide to pandemic planning for your business. A widespread outbreak among employees where everyone must quarantine can be detrimental to your operations. Protect your employees and coworkers by setting up a regular cleaning and sanitation schedule. If you do have an outbreak, contact ServiceMaster by Rice right away to provide thorough cleaning and decontamination services.
In the Midwest, we see our fair share of sub-zero temperatures during winter. Dangerously low conditions and poor insulation of your pipes can cause them to burst (whether it’s your fault or not). A ruptured water pipe can lead to serious water damage on the floor, ceiling, and walls of your business. To avoid a burst, properly check and weatherize your pipes, especially in colder spaces of your business like a ceiling, attic, or basement.
Despite our best intentions, accidents happen. Sometimes a pipe near your shared office space or on the street may break and cause issues for your business. If you find yourself with water damage from a ruptured pipe any time of year, call ServiceMaster by Rice and our water damage restoration crews will help assess the extent of the destruction and get your business back up and running.
Faulty HVAC Systems
Along with protecting pipes, it is important to ensure that all the furnaces and HVAC components in your workspace are clean and working properly. Dirty HVAC systems can pose a fire threat as buildup can act as kindling and cause a spark or even worse, a fire. To avoid this, check filters at least twice a year. Consider implementing a regular heating schedule based on when employees will be in the building (warm temperatures also increase productivity!). However, during colder months, don’t turn the system off completely at night or over weekends to fend off a deep freeze where pipes may burst!
Space Heater Mishaps
Finding the perfect office temperature for everyone can be a major feat. Although space heaters are a convenient way for employees to warm up, they can be dangerous when not used correctly. Remember to turn off and unplug them when not in use to avoid a fire disaster. In case of a fire, make sure employees are up to speed on where to go in an emergency. Practice a drill before it’s too cold outside and doesn’t forget to teach employees how to use the office fire extinguisher.
The buildup of heavy ice and snow after a snowstorm or particularly long winter can lead to ice dams on your building’s roof. This accumulation of water can spell trouble when it starts to melt, causing small leaks and even roof collapse. Even small leaks can turn into dire situations as employees may be left to scramble and save documents or electronics from water damage. Hire a professional to come inspect your roof for weak areas or signs of damage. Consider replacing worn-out shingles to avoid leaks. When water drips into your business it can cause potentially-harmful mold to grow and spread. If you do spot signs of mold in your building, call ServiceMaster by Rice and our team will eliminate both the mold and the source of moisture simultaneously.
Strategize a Disaster Recovery Plan for Your Business
Most of the time when disaster strikes, it is out of the blue. Often there isn’t much time to waste and everyone needs to be ready to jump into action. One of the best ways to protect your business’ continuity during these unpredictable situations is to have a plan in place for the worst-case scenarios. It’s like an insurance policy—you hope you never need to use it but it’s there when you need it. Building a Disaster Restoration plan into your long-term operations will save you valuable time in the off chance of a disaster. Here are just a few things to consider when building your plan:
- Location Matters, Think Ahead: Where your business is located can determine which disasters are more likely to occur. In the Midwest, severe storms, flooding, or snowstorms would be much more likely than a wildfire or hurricane. Have a contingency plan for each potential localized disaster.
- Back-Up Important Data: As a business owner, you know how important keeping your paperwork and other documents organized is. This goes for both paper documents and those stored on computers. Make sure as you organize, you are also making copies both physical and electronic. Store these documents securely off-site and/back them up on the cloud or external drives.
- Invest in Supplies: As you prepare for potential disasters, build a kit of emergency gadgets and supplies:
- First Aid Kit
- Fire Extinguisher
- Weather Radio
- Emergency Heating Blankets
- Work with Insurance: After the initial shock of a disaster wears off, often the next step business owners take is to contact their insurance company. While calling insurance is important, consider working directly with a Disaster Restoration company like ServiceMaster by Rice. We’ll work with your insurance to properly assess the damage, help mitigate increasing deductibles, and negotiate to get the best outcome for your claim.
Put Your Business First, Enroll in Our Priority Response Program
Large-scale disasters and weather events often impact whole communities. With homes and businesses all looking to rebuild at the same time, it’s often difficult to secure contractors and restoration services. At ServiceMaster by Rice, we understand that in times of need your business is your top priority. That’s why we’ve created the Priority Response Program. By signing up, you gain access to our emergency response network 24/7 and guarantee your business is taken care of before the rest. Whether it’s fire and smoke restoration, building stabilization, or document drying and recovery, our certified professionals will begin work right away to get you and your business back on its feet. Fill out the interest form for more information.