The next few days promise cold conditions for much of the United States. The Midwest will likely suffer the coldest temperatures experienced in the last two decades. The mid-South and Northeast are expected to see bitterly cold temperatures with possible significant snowfall. View the weather for your location at: www.weather.gov
Cold spells can cause problems with water systems from freezing and expansion. Once thawed this can cause serious water damage. Freeze-ups may render fire protection systems inoperable. Other problems that may occur include roof collapse, power outages, equipment failures, limited work times due to exposure and the danger of slips and falls.
Preparation is crucial. Here are some important tips:
- Assemble the Emergency Team, supplies and equipment at a designated safe location on site.
- The Cold Weather Emergency Team should remain on site until the emergency has passed.
- Ensure that the Emergency Organization has adequate supplies of non-perishable food, first aid equipment, lighting, two-way communication equipment and stored drinking water.
- Establish emergency communication methods.
- Inspect all fire protection equipment and leave in service and assure adequate heat is provided.
- Verify all fire water tanks or reservoirs are full and protected from freezing.
- If necessary, shut down operations and processes safely in accordance with OEM recommendations. Drain non-fire protection tanks and piping to prevent freezing.
- Ensure an adequate supply of fuel is available for all heating systems and emergency generators.
- Ensure the location has procured a supply of propane heating torches, electric portable heating devices, extra fuel for various equipment, etc.
- Turn off non-essential lighting, machinery and equipment. Anticipate power outages and surges; be prepared to shut down susceptible systems such as computers.
- Recommend early closing or delayed opening.
- Back up important computer data and records; and store backups in a safe location protected from cold weather, snow and wind.
- Protect important paper records from cold weather, snow and wind.
- When possible, move important equipment and stock if subject to potential collapse or other weather exposure. If equipment or stock cannot be relocated, consider additional protection with tarps, portable heaters, etc.
- Consider flooding potentials: (1) de-energize equipment which may be submerged (2) move equipment and stock to higher locations, or protect with sandbags (3) verify operation of pumps and other dewatering equipment.
- Confirm snow removal contractor.
- If 24 hour staffing is required, ensure that local hotel rooms are available and reserved for staff if transportation could be challenged.