We all know that with winter comes cold weather, so we all try to do our best to prepare by winterizing our homes and vehicles. But more importantly, we need to consider the impact winter storms can have on our well-being and ensure that we have certain safety measures in place, especially if we have to be outside for our jobs or other necessary reasons. Winter storms can range from light to moderate snow over several hours to a blizzard with blinding, wind-driven snow that lasts for numerous days. Many winter storms are accompanied by low temperatures and sometimes by strong winds, icing, sleet, and freezing rain, which can cause treacherous conditions. Workers may be required to work in cold environments – and sometimes for extended periods – which may cause cold stress. Cold stress drives down the skin temperature and eventually the internal body temperature. We’ve provided some helpful tips in order to prevent health risks such as cold stress and prepare you and your employees for winter weather.
Tips on how to prepare before, during, and after a winter storm
Before the storm:
- Listen to daily weather reports and prepare your location
- Review and update your winter weather policies and procedures, defining how closures and early dismissals will be communicated to your staff
- Understand the health risk(s) associated with winter-weather exposures (i.e., hypothermia and cardio stress, frostbite)
- Conduct a safety meeting on winter procedures and provide a call-in number to employees
- Prepare grounds and inventory snow removal equipment
During the storm:
- Wear appropriate exterior clothing and footwear that protects from cold temperatures and prevents slips and falls
- Begin to shovel walkways to reduce snow accumulation and avoid overexertion when shoveling snow
- Watch for signs of hypothermia and frostbite and drive only if it is necessary
After the storm:
- Complete snow removal
- Clear and maintain the entrances to buildings, walkways, and parking areas
Preparing for a winter storm doesn’t have to be a challenge as long as the proper safety and security precautions are taken. Equipping employees with information to prepare before, during, and after a storm will not only empower them, but also help to decrease the possibility of severe health risks. Following these tips will help to prepare your organization as well as your employees for a safe winter season.
PMA stands ready to help you 24/7. For more information, please visit our Weather Preparedness & Response Center
or contact the PMA Customer Service Center at 1-888-476-2669.