Winter weather is unpredictable, and facilities managers need the right equipment to help keep buildings accessible and safe for occupants.
We tapped Jim Vassil, senior facilities solutions technical trainer for Staples, to share the must-haves that your facilities team will need as temperatures plummet.
Rock salt and ice melt
- Look for products with sodium chloride, which is long-lasting and effective, or calcium chloride, which works fast in extremely cold weather.
- Choose snow shovels with heavy-duty, wide heads. Make sure they’re labeled specifically for snow, not for other purposes.
- Have at least one shovel per facility entrance.
- If you only need to clear light snow from sidewalks, a single-stage snow blower with a 20-inch clearing path is ideal.
- For larger areas and heavier snow, a two-stage, self-propelled model with wheel drive is more effective — if the area is flat.
- Use a track-drive model for areas with a slope.
- Select mats made of olefin fiber, which absorbs moisture from shoes and boots, dries quickly and is resistant to mildew and rot. If your employees leave their wet boots at the door, provide boot trays with rimmed edges to contain water.
- If a floor is wet or slippery, put up a caution sign to alert employees while the area dries.
- Apply slip-resistant safety tape to outdoor steps with smooth surfaces to help people maintain traction and prevent falls.
- Keep drains clear — outdoor drains and interior floor drains can back up, creating puddles that increase slip-and-fall risks for employees. Use a high-acid drain cleaner to clear drains of mold, mildew and other organic waste. Then, periodically flush with an enzyme-based formula to maintain the flow.
- Identify the essential systems that need to continue running if you lose power, and work with a technician to ensure your generator is capable of backing up those systems.
- If you’re buying a new generator, talk to your utility company, an electrician or a building engineer to determine what fuel source and size are best for your facility. Your local commercial building code authority is a good resource for regulation information.
- Losing power during an ice storm might result in electricity coming back in surges that can damage electronics or wiring, so make sure devices and equipment are plugged into surge protectors to prevent this.
- Provide enough first-aid kits for employees. If someone falls and gets a minor cut or scrape, they’ll have access to bandages, antibiotic ointment and over-the-counter pain relievers.
Emergency preparedness kit
- In case of a sudden storm or flood, stock the essentials to keep a skeleton crew at your facility fed and safe.
- Include a three-day supply of water and nonperishable food, along with flashlights, batteries, a radio, personal hygiene items, basic medications such as aspirin, a cellphone and chargers, duct tape, work gloves, latex gloves and two-way radios.
Hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes
- Because cold and flu can run rampant in the colder months, stock the office with easy-to-access waterless hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes that employees can use on their desktops and armrests.
Extra coats, gloves and hats
- Keep a stash of extra winter coats, work gloves and warm hats in case a member of your team isn’t prepared for the weather and needs to work outside.
For more information about how to prep your facility for winter weather, visit the Staples Worklife Resource Center.