Cold Temperatures, Power Outages & Weather Emergencies
The winter holidays are here and many school and other town buildings will be closed until after the winter break. Last winter, CIRMA members sustained damage of well over $2 million from frozen pipes and cold temperatures. Much of this damage could have been prevented by following the precautions listed below:
- Even when the building is unoccupied, building and room thermostats should never be set lower than 55 degrees.
- Keep thermostats above 65 degrees when the weather may dip below 0 degrees or when the facility is to be unoccupied for a weekend or longer.
- Closed-in areas of your buildings that have poor air circulation are likely to be much colder than in the room itself, causing pipes located there to freeze. Leave ceiling panels and room and cabinet doors open wherever possible to encourage the circulation of warm air into cold-spots, especially in locations near water pipes.
- During a storm, consider holding "Freeze Watches," in which designated staff are available to monitor building temperature and conditions. Have a snow and ice removal plan for roadways, sidewalks, and roofs.
- Winter storms may cause power outages from downed lines. Sub-zero temperatures combined with power outages may lead to major damage from frozen water pipes. Download Preventing Frozen Pipes, Preparing for Winter Storms, and for information for staff on these topics and information on what to do if your building pipes do freeze.
Downed Power Lines
All downed power lines should be assumed to be live and the local utility company should be notified of their location. If you have generators, make sure they are rated properly for the job and good to go. While emergency generators may keep building temperatures adequate, their proper use is vital. Electricity from your generator can back-feed to power lines, killing or seriously injuring line crews who are working to repair the lines. A transfer switch stops back-feeding, and also makes using your generator much more convenient, allowing appliances to be operated much like when the power is turned on. Download guidelines for use of Generators and Portable Generators.
Prepare your Staff
Provide staff a list of emergency telephone numbers, including snow removal contact, heating system repair, utility company, the weather bureau, and the risk manager. Have cold weather gear on hand such as hats, gloves, emergency blankets, flashlights and batteries.
Heavy snow loads on roofs may also cause serious structural damage and personal injury. For additional information on what to do to protect your roof and building occupants, download Snow Loading, Preventing Roof Leaks, Preventing Water Damage, Preventing Flat Roof Leaks, and Risk Transfer Techniques for use in contracting snow removal and other types of services.
Visit CIRMA's Winter Weather Precautions page for more information about preparing for cold weather emergencies. For assistance in implementing these recommendations, please contact your CIRMA Risk Management Consultant.
To report a property loss, please use any of the following phone or fax numbers or email addresses below:
CIRMA Switchboard: 203-946-3700
Claims Fax: 203-773-8134
Cathy Gambrell, Liability-Auto-Property Claims Manager
Fax: 203- 497-2422
Cynthia Mancini, Liability-Auto-Property Claims Manager
Brenda Gillis, Sr. Property Claim Representative
All Workers' Compensation claims should be reported online at NetClaims.net. (If you are not registered to report online, claims may still be reported at 1-800-OK CIRMA.)