Winter Storm Preparedness Guide
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Winter snow accumulation in excess of building design conditions can be vulnerable to structural failure and possible collapse if basic preventative steps are not taken in advance of a snow event. Are you prepared? Use this guide to help you understand your roof collapse risks from snow and to develop plans for mitigating the damage.
Understand Winter Storm Exposure
- Understand the winter storm and ground snow loading exposures around your property. This information can be obtained from local authority.
- Understand your structural vulnerabilities and collect baseline information: applicable building codes, design snow load, structural framing system, thermal properties and renovation history.
- Consult with a license structural engineer if roof retrofit is needed for the existing building to support additional snow load.
- Understand how winter storm and roof collapse by snow will impact your operation (people, structural, equipment, stock, egress, ingress, etc.)
Implement Pre-Winter Mitigation
- Develop Emergency Response Program covers winter emergencies, including appropriate response procedures for excessive snow loads, operation shut down and evacuation.
- Develop and train a Winter Storm Response Team to initiate pre-winter storm and post-winter storm recovery actions.
- Establish a list of contractors to aid in Winter storm preparedness and recovery. Place contractors on alert.
- Prior to winter, inspect the roof structure for damage or deterioration, and repair or reinforce it as needed.
- Develop a snow removal plan and ensure not overloading the existing roofing. Locating areas where snow removed from a roof can be stored on the ground away from entrances, exits, canopies, and building equipment. Accessibility for snow removal vehicles should be checked.
- Maintain an adequate inventory of materials such as snow removal equipment (shovels, ice spades, snow blowers, etc.)
Determine What to Do During Winter Season
- Define a methodology to determine an approximate snow load and at what point snow removal should be initiated.
- Elevate if any signs of overstress conditions occur on structural components. (Crack of walls, Sagging roof members, and creaking noises)
Create a Winter Storm Emergency Response Plan (WSERP)
- Formalize the pre- and post-earthquake procedures and precautions into a written WSERP.
- Form a Winter Storm response team, assign a leader, and assign specific tasks to members of the team.
- Document all hazardous operation shut down procedures in the WSERP.
- Give authorization for the winter storm response team to initiate equipment or process shutdowns.
- Provide external/internal winter storm related training as required.
- Conduct drills of the WSERP utilizing real-life simulation or computer simulation.
- Validate the WSERP annually. Adjust/update as needed.