Spring can bring about some of the most dangerous weather and wreak havoc on many aspects of your company’s operations. Nearly half of all Americans have experienced severe natural disasters, such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes or wildfires. Weather threats should be taken seriously. Implementing several measures can help minimize damage and potential exposures for your business.
Dangerous Spring Weather
Unexpected severe weather increases the risk of property damage, injury and even death. Here are some common spring weather events:
TornadoesAccording to AccuWeather, tornadoes are by far the most extreme spring event. Winds from tornadoes can exceed 200 miles per hour, sending debris flying. These natural disasters derive from powerful thunderstorms and can cause massive destruction and death in a matter of seconds. Damage can range from a single mile to over 50 miles long. Some tornadoes develop so quickly there is little advanced warning.
Severe thunderstorms can produce strong winds, lightning and large hail. Sparks from a lightning strike could spark fires, especially in drought-affected areas. Workers who are frequently outdoors must consider additional lightning risks. The National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) estimates nearly 25 million cloud-to-ground lightning strikes occur in the U.S. every year. While 90% of struck individuals survive, they can suffer serious or even permanent disabilities.
Snowmelt, ice jams and heavy rain can produce, in a short amount of time, large amounts of water runoff and result in flooding. All 50 states have experienced flooding within the past five years. Property damage from flooding costs over $3.5 billion annually and has projected commercial flood claims of an average of $89,000.
Spring snowstorms can cause power outages and property damage. A snowstorm is considered a blizzard when:
- Sustained winds or frequent gusts are over 35 miles per hour
- Considerable snow reduces visibility to less than a quarter mile
- The snow is expected to last over 3 hours
Blizzards can force business closures and create a higher risk for car accidents, hypothermia, frostbite and heart attacks from overexertion.
The second half of spring brings higher temperatures and heat-related disorders or illnesses for employees in outdoor environments. High heat and humidity influence the body to slow down evaporation and overwork to maintain a normal temperature. Each year, nearly 200 Americans die from heat-related symptoms. A heat wave can be dangerous and even life-threatening for workers who do not take the proper precautions.
Minimize Weather Risks to Your Business
Springtime weather is extremely unpredictable and can cause your business numerous exposures. Preparation provides your company the greatest opportunity to protect your employees, property and operations. Consider the following:
Establish a Plan
Employees who frequently travel could be at risk from severe spring weather on the road. Onsite staff, clients and customers can also be at risk from shelter-in-place orders or power outages. Create a plan
to provide direction and help keep everyone safe during an emergency. Be specific and outline procedures and directions for employees in different circumstances. Conduct practice drills until the plan becomes second nature.
On-Hand Emergency Kit
Storms and floods can quickly escalate into an emergency situation. Create an emergency kit with equipment and supplies to help assure your building occupants remain safe. NOAA recommends the following for an extreme-weather emergency kit.
- Bottled water
- Non-perishable food
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- First-aid supplies
- oolset to turn off utilities
- Important contact information (e.g., authorities, insurance information)
- Battery powered & NOAA Weather radios
- Fire extinguisher
Secure the Property & Outdoor Assets
Dead foliage, weak structures and unsecured materials can become airborne hazards during windstorms and cause damage to buildings and external systems. If severe weather is in the forecast, complete preventive maintenance, close windows securely, secure or bring outdoor equipment inside, and clear out storm drains.
An extreme weather event can cause power outages and physical damage to your equipment. Routinely backup
your critical data to cloud-based storage. This will allow a smoother rebuild of your systems if necessary.
Your insurance broker should help you understand and plan for the impacts of catastrophic weather. A coverage review can help to ensure you have no gaps in coverage that could result in an uncovered loss.
We’re Here to Help Protect Your Business
Your business can better mitigate springtime risks by minimizing the opportunity for property damage, preparing employees to act and working with an experienced broker to ensure the appropriate insurance coverage is in place. If you have questions as to whether you have the right coverage or would like additional information about springtime-weather risk prevention, connect with a member of our team.
This article is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel or an insurance professional for appropriate advice.