Now that the weather is warming up, it’s time to make sure your facilities made it through the winter unscathed.
Every building is susceptible to winter excesses. Cold temperatures, rain, snow and ice can create havoc on roofs, trees and shrubs. Around your property, snowplows, freezing water and salting might have chewed up your parking lots and created dangerous cracks in your sidewalks.
Repair the Parking Area
The numerous amounts of de-icing chemicals, snow removal, excess rain and fluctuating temperatures has put a beating on your surfaces this winter season. Each time you add salt to the parking lot, it can eat through the material. Along with the salt, snowplows scrape the asphalt, which can create cracks and issues with it. People can trip and fall in the hole and vehicles can be damaged. If freezing temperatures created cracks or holes in the parking lot or sidewalks, fix the problem areas with patching, seal coating or crack filling.
Besides repairing pavement damage, thoroughly cleaning the parking lot is necessary in the spring. Over the course of the winter, leaves and other plant debris can collect around storm drains, gutters and curbs. All this debris needs to be removed, and the surface needs to be cleaned. You should have your parking area cleaned regularly, but it is especially important at this time of year since it will allow you to inspect the paved surface and decide if repair work needs to be done. Power wash the area to remove dirt, mud or other debris, repaint any faded lines and repair broken signs. With a clean parking area, you reduce liability and improve visual appeal.
Check the Roof and Exterior
Winds, rain and snow can cause significant wear to buildings and speed the aging process. Winter storms can damage your roof, but you may not notice the damage until the roof leaks. Inspect roofs and the exterior of your buildings. Look for chipped paint, damaged siding or masonry, broken or leaking windows, foundation cracks, roof leaks and missing shingles.
If your roof is difficult to access or if you are uncomfortable being on it, hire a professional contractor to perform a complete roof inspection and make any needed repairs or restoration. Have your roofing contractor clear all roof drains to allow for runoff and limit ponding, which is problematic for flat roofing surfaces. The contractor should also clear pathways to the eaves in situations where there is a pitched roof without drainage pipes. Before signing a contract with a roofer or any service provider or contractor, consider best practices to protect your organization in contractual relationships.
Inspect for Water Damage
Increased rainfall in the spring can cause drainage issues around your property, so carefully inspect the entire building for water damage. Check the exterior foundation, interior walls and windows for moisture, leaks or condensation, and clear out and repair any damaged gutters and downspouts.
Your sump pump will get plenty of work with the spring rains, so make sure it is fully operational by cleaning out debris, checking water sensors and replacing backup batteries before flooding becomes an issue.
If you have an irrigation system, it also could have been damaged by freezing weather. Check your system to make sure it is drained properly and ready to use during the spring and summer months.
Over the course of the winter, accumulating ice and snow and strong rain and winds can break plants and limbs, small shrubs or ornamental trees. Shoveling and plowing could also have caused damage to your plants, and it is not always possible to find out that the plant has died until spring. On larger trees, look for limbs that need to be trimmed. Limbs can fall on sidewalks or in parking lots, injuring people or damaging property.
Give Your Facilities a Once-Over
Finally, just because it is nice outside, don’t forget about the inside of your facilities. Perhaps the best way to find any indoor safety issues is to perform a general walkthrough of your building, paying attention to the details. Check your doors, locks, light switches, ceiling tiles, fixtures and other details. Make sure you have a complete emergency kit and all your fire extinguishers are working. Inspect your exit signs and all your countertops and furniture. Open windows and air out the stuffy building if possible. You may also want to inspect and clean the HVAC system and install fans or dehumidifiers in damp areas as needed.
The warm weather means more people outside your facility. Providing a safe environment will give you more peace of mind and ensure everyone can enjoy your building and grounds.
This advice is provided to you by Christian Brothers Risk Management Services. Please visit cbservices.org for more information.