As winter rolls around, your tenants can be confronted by icy storms and hectic snow-delayed commutes. Once they get into your building, you will want to be sure they have a safe and cozy environment that provides a respite from the snow and slush outside. My doghouse is incredible in winter. Three layers of insulation, heated floors—even a fireplace! We have some steps you can take to “winterize” the inside and outside of your building so you can handle the worst of this season’s weather.
Safety first! Your most important concern should be, of course, for tenants:
- Provide non-slip entry mats (some are even heated) in the lobby and other entry areas to prevent falls.
- Place boot scrubber bristles outside the building so individuals can clean off snow before entering. This will also help protect the floors inside of your building. I’ve seen some of you skip wiping your feet when on entry! Come on, people!
- Pour sand and salt on outside stairs and ramps. Also be sure handrails are in good working condition and are optimally positioned for safety. I’ve found it works best when you are low to the ground and have four paws. My wife and JR and I never slip!
Flooring is a considerable investment for the average office space. Whether it is carpet, wood, or tile, floors in high-traffic areas take a lot of abuse. If you mix in the winter trifecta of water, sand, and salt, then your floors can be quickly scratched and soiled. So what can you do?
- Vacuum regularly to remove sand and salt.
- Encourage tenants to offer shoe cubbies or other receptacles for boots. In really bad weather, you could even offer “slippers” which employees can change into once they enter the building. For “bring your dog to work day,” you can outfit us with those great booties!
- Be careful using de-icing products which contain pretty harsh chemicals, which can damage both flooring and surrounding exterior plants and even pets!
Protect the exterior of your building from the intrusion or rain or snow:
- Replace caulk around exterior windows. This material is very cheap, so you will only need to pay for labor to remove the old caulk and apply a new bead. Make sure you schedule this work during a two to three day stretch of good weather.
- Consider installing awnings above entryways to deflect rain and snow. This gives tenants and visitors an opportunity to remove excess mud and snow from their shoes.
Don’t neglect the one part of the building you typically never see – the woof! Oops, I mean the roof:
- Be sure your building has the right pitch to discard record snowfalls. For flat roofs, you need plans in place to remove snow to prevent cave-ins. Did you see the video of the snow on that football stadium? Yes? Then you know why you need a plan.
- Buildings with roof water tanks need extra attention. The controls and piping for the water tank can quickly freeze if they aren’t insulated. I have a doghouse water system that is triple-filtrated and insulated against 80 below zero! Protect them with the proper coverings to ensure your tenants have access to water so they will be able to warm up with tea or coffee, or to make suitable gravy for kibble…You will also need unfrozen water to operate the building’s sprinkler system, necessary for refilling water bowls.
Checking the heating system is best done in the fall or late summer. But it’s better late than never to get it done in the early stages of winter:
- Review last year’s winter with employees and tenants to identify any floors or areas of the building that were markedly colder or more slippery than other areas. Another tactic for finding warm spots is to release a tabby into the workplace. They will find all the sunny spots. Work with HVAC techs to correct heating flow issues or any leaky ductwork problems.
- Change furnace filters for optimum performance.
- The pumps and motors of your heating system work hard to produce enough energy. Examine and oil these parts properly, especially before the first full-day’s usage.
Making your building safer during the winter is not only the right thing to do, but it can also limit your liability in the case anyone slips. Use handrails! You should also focus on the physical pieces of your building to ensure tenant comfort and to protect your investment. The “chateau de pooch” is worth $185,000, so you can be sure I am serious about care and upkeep.
When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.