A Winter Weather Guide for Louisiana Businesses: Frozen Pipes, Icy Conditions, and More

March 2, 2021

While Louisiana is more known for hot summers versus cold winters, every year we have a number of days with freezing conditions. Whether it’s just a deep dry freeze or snow comes along with it, it is important to make sure you and your business are prepared. In this post, we’ll discuss how to protect water pipes, how to prevent water damage, and how to prevent slips and falls due to snow and icy conditions.

How to Prevent Pipe Damage Due to Freezing Conditions

In severely cold temperatures, water pipes have the potential to freeze and break. However, by taking the proper precautions you can help minimize this risk. Here are some recommended steps to prevent pipe damage:

  • Be sure to properly insulate water-filled pipes that are located on the exterior of walls or in unheated areas such as crawlspaces and attics.
  • Keep temperatures at a minimum of 40º F in all areas inside buildings that are susceptible to freezing.
  • For antifreeze sprinkler systems, ensure there is a sufficient concentration of antifreeze to withstand freezing conditions
  • For branch lines of wet sprinkler systems, ensure that parts exposed to cold weather are insulated and heat traced.
  • Fire pump test headers should be checked to ensure they have been properly drained.
  • Fire pump and dry-pipe sprinkler system equipment rooms should be checked routinely to ensure the heaters are in good operating condition.
  • You should also drain pipes that are not needed during the winter season.

How to Prevent Water Damage from Frozen Pipes

Sometimes after taking all the precautions you may suspect you have a damaged pipe. Here are some steps to take to prevent water damage if you suspect you have a leak.

  • Find your main water shutoff valve and close it as soon as possible before temperatures return to above freezing.
  • As temperatures rise above freezing, inspect pipes for damage and observe pipes for sign of water leaks.
  • If you find a leaking pipe, DO NOT TURN YOUR WATER BACK ON. Instead, open all of your faucets to drain any remaining water left in your pipes. Then call a licensed plumber for repairs.
  • If you do not detect any leaking pipes, turn water back on slowly. Be sure to continue to check for leaks. If you still do not find any leaking pipes, you can return your main water valve back to its fully open position.
  • It is important to note that you should never use torches or heat guns to expedite the pipe thawing process. This creates a fire hazard and can lead to a pipe cracking due to rapidly changing temperatures.

How to Prevent Slips, Trips, and Falls Due to Winter Conditions

During a winter weather event, there is a higher potential for slip, trip, and fall hazards. As a property owner or manager, it is your responsibility to make every effort to reduce the risk of injury due to these hazards. Here are some things to keep in mind for ice and snow removal.

  • First you will want to decide whose responsibility it will be to carry out the plan you develop. Will it be the on-duty manger, you, or someone else?
  • Next decide if your will carry out snow and ice removal procedures in-house or if you’ll hire an outside contractor such as your landscaping service. Due to the standby nature of snow removal, an outside contractor may prove the better option.
  • When prioritizing areas of your property for snow removal, you’ll want to focus on high traffic or dangerous areas like your business’s main entrance and walkway slopes.
  • Ice melting products can leave floors right inside your building slippery so be sure to have an entrance mat and frequently clean up moisture tracked in. It is also best to provide warning signs in high-hazard areas and to provide adequate lighting.
  • Once winter conditions arrive, be sure to monitor walking surfaces and your in-house or contractor removal practices. Typically, you’ll want to keep a log of these activities to make sure procedures are being followed. This can be helpful in case of an injury claim.
  • If an incident occurs, be sure to investigate promptly and contact your insurance agent.

Although Louisiana is not subject to winter conditions as often as some states, it is important to have a winter weather plan in place. By having a plan, you’ll substantially lower your risk to pipe damage and injuries due to hazardous conditions. If you have questions about how to best protect your business or questions about liability coverage for potential injuries, be sure to contact your Louisiana independent insurance agent today.

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