Ensuring Accessibility During Adverse Weather: Steps Every Business Should Take

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By David

Businesses across America face substantial disruptions and liability risks when customers and employees are unable to safely access facilities due to adverse weather. Icy parking lots, slick walkways and heavy snowfall create dangerous conditions that require proactive preparation. Implementing thorough winter weather maintenance plans not only provides protection, but it also shows customers that accessibility and safety remain top priorities despite the challenges.

In this article, we will explore key actionable steps that every business should take to maintain safe facility access through rain, snow, ice, and other hazards. Staying open and preventing weather-related injuries demonstrates resilience and care for patrons. Well-prepared businesses that prioritize accessibility set themselves apart and earn customer loyalty.

Clearing Snow and Ice from Walkways

Promptly clearing snow and ice ensures safe walking conditions and entry points. Make sure to inspect and repair any cracked walkways or uneven areas where ice accumulates. Look for potential trouble spots near drains, faucets, or leaky roofs where melting and refreezing occurs. Develop a prioritized snow removal plan starting with the busiest pedestrian routes. Soon after snowfall, shovel or snow blow paths and sprinkle grit salt to improve traction. Keep grit bin and containers nearby for easy access.

Apply sufficient ice melt products to high-traffic areas before re-freezing occurs – calcium or magnesium chloride works better than salt at lower temps. Check and re-apply melt periodically to keep surfaces slushy vs icy and remove any excess buildup. Use snow mats or powered snow melting systems around main entrances to maintain access. Consistently monitoring and maintaining walkways shows that you take customers’ wellbeing seriously during storms. Do not forget seldom used routes either – keep all walkways clear.

Clearing Parking Areas and Entry Routes

Make sure patrons can actually reach your premises safely by keeping roads, lots and drop-off areas fully cleared. Coordinate with local plow services or use your own snow removal vehicles to routinely plow parking areas and open entry routes after heavy snow. Shovel out accessibility parking spaces first so they remain usable for those with limited mobility. Place ice melt/grit down soon after plowing and scrape up excess slush to avoid refreezing into ice.

Cover disabled parking signposts to prevent damage and ensure designated spaces stay obvious. If patrons must park remotely and walk long distances, arrange for carts or shuttles. Keeping normal access clear shows customers you’re open for business as usual. Maintain cleared curb cuts at crosswalks so pedestrians can reach doors safely. Stage snow clearing equipment onsite before storms to enable rapid response.

Maintaining Safe Building Exteriors

Prevent winter hazards around facility exteriors with vigilance by inspecting roofing, overhangs, and drainage systems and removing accumulated snow before ice dams or excess weight threats arise. Insulate/heat tape vulnerable pipes and critical components like gas lines and sprinklers. Check exterior lighting is functioning properly to avoid dark, unsafe areas. Ensure downspouts direct runoff away from walkways where refreezing could occur.

Salt/shovel exterior stairways, fire escapes, loading bays and maintenance areas. Don’t neglect seldom-used routes. Monitoring all sides of your building reduces risks to infrastructure and people navigating your property. Keep trash collection areas clear so tenants can access bins safely. Clear noise and debris from rooftop HVAC system air intakes. Inspect building seals and repair gaps or cracks that allow water intrusion.

Having Backup Power Options Ready

Winter storms lead to frequent power outages, so ensure backup systems provide continuity by installing emergency generators to supply power to critical systems during multi-day outages. Maintain adequate generator fuel reserves onsite for long runtimes and keep battery packs, flashlights, and headlamps available for staff in case of outage. If possible, source a secondary utility or renewable power to avoid total reliance on traditional grid electricity.

Plan ahead so you can remain open and provide community refuge during outages if needed. Perform periodic generator tests before storm season to ensure readiness. Register for priority restoration with utilities. For expansive facilities, consider segmenting power systems to isolate outages rather than lose entire buildings.

Adjusting Hours and Notifying Customers

Be flexible and proactive in communications when challenges arise. Alert customers quickly if closures or modified hours become necessary due to conditions. Post closure and opening updates prominently on doors, websites, and social media feeds. Provide contact information for patrons to check status in real time and offer SMS text updates if possible.

When reopening, spread the word widely that you’re operational again and ready for customers. Keeping patrons well informed preserves trust and goodwill even when disruptions occur. Also notify suppliers and contractors of closures that may affect deliveries or work timelines. Send email alerts to registered clients about the business’s winter weather procedures.

Conclusion

Adverse weather demands proactive planning to maintain business accessibility and safety. Establishing thorough maintenance procedures before winter arrives provides readiness. Consistently executing well-conceived protocols demonstrates commitment to customers’ wellbeing despite challenges. Staying vigilant ensures facilities remain hazard-free across parking areas, building exteriors and entry points.

Adjusting operations smoothly based on conditions further prevents risks. Savvy businesses realize that developing resilience requires investments in preparation and vigilance. When companies demonstrate they’re ready to tackle whatever weather arrives, customers take notice and respond with loyalty. Make accessibility a priority all year long to provide an exceptional customer experience.

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