Cold snap: Risk management advice for businesses

Public Health England has urged people to prepare for the cold weather and look out for individuals most at risk, as temperatures have struggled to reach double digits in the last few days.

Consultant in public health at Public Health England, Dr Ishani Kar-Purkayastha said people with heart and lung conditions, older people and the very young are at risk of becoming unwell during cold weather.

“Wearing lots of thin layers will help them to stay warm. It may also be helpful to offer to collect prescriptions and shopping,” she said. “Below 18 degrees, the risk of strokes, heart attacks and chest infections increases so heating homes to at least this temperature is important to stay well.”

And, as the mercury falls, insurance broker, Towergate, has issued advice for businesses on how they can protect their assets during the winter months, as well as over the Christmas and New Year period, when premises may be empty

Advice for businesses (Source: Towergate Insurance Brokers)

Be prepared. Winter weather is much easier to endure if you’re ready for it. Having an emergency supply kit, as well as a back-up power generator, is a good place to start but with icy and slippery roads and pavements, slips, trips and falls can become a regular event in the winter and the last thing a business needs is additional costs if the victim finds you liable. Keep an up-to-date inventory list and photos of your business, both interior and exterior, along with insurance policies and other important documents stored in a safe location.

Be pro-active. There are small steps you can take before the weather turns ugly. Having your gutters emptied and cleaned at the beginning of winter could prevent issues such as flooding, power outages or leaks into the building. Ensure all external windows and doors seal properly and are lockable. Wind and rain can sneak through the cracks of these areas and whilst the premises are empty, you don’t want to offer people an easy opportunity to break in and help themselves to your stock or IT equipment.

Ensure maintenance contracts are up to date.
If you know that your business premises are going to be empty over the Christmas and New Year period, ensure that your fire extinguishers, alarms, and security systems are well-maintained and checked prior to closure. If you own commercial premises, it is recommended to have you electrics tested regularly or on a change of tenancy. Many fires are the result of electrical failure.

Have a disaster recovery plan in place
. All businesses should plan for the absolute worst-case scenario, for example an event or other emergency that prevents you from getting access to your place of work or premises. You must therefore plan to ensure that business can continue in the interim with minimal disruption, such as call diversions, working laptops with access to your business system and key documentation. When you have prepared for this, store your document in a safe, accessible location off site.

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