Heavy snowfalls and storms in several parts of the United States wreaked havoc again this winter, leaving behind areas of concern for municipalities, schools and other public facilities.
Trident Public Risk Solutions, a leader in the public sector insurance and risk management marketplace, reported that Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut and Maine saw the most weather-related claims.
“We’ve seen a 55 percent to 60 percent increase in claims from January-February vs. October-November largely driven by weather-related events,” said Joseph Lacopo, claims supervisor for Trident.
Those claims were filed for incidents ranging from structural damage to snowplows colliding with vehicles and fences.
Not only has winter pummeled states familiar with continuous snowfall and ice storms, but it also reared its head in other parts of the country not prone to winter fatigue. Seattle, Washington, is one city that experienced record snow and ice this winter, according to the Midwest Regional Climate Center in its Accumulated Winter Season Severity Index.
What this means is that more municipalities, school districts and other public entities than usual will be dealing with the aftereffects of snow and ice on their structures and premises.
In fact, Trident cautions, even after the last flakes have fallen and spring begins, now is not the time to let your guard down. Parking lots, roofs and other structures are likely to be susceptible to winter fatigue.
“Clients should make sure their roof drains are clear so that the melting snow and ice don’t build up, back up and leak, or cause roof issues,” said Bob Marinelli, risk control manager for Trident. “There needs to be a systematic review to determine conditions that need to be addressed,” he added.
The operative phrase at this time of year is “be ready,” Marinelli said.
Municipalities and educational institutions should be sure their emergency action plans are up to date, staff is trained and drills have been conducted in the event that a severe storm — possibly with hail or tornados — hits.
“Be sure you’re ready to take action and staff and students know how to respond,” Marinelli said.
Property inspection tips
- Check for potholes that may have developed in parking lots.
- Watch for damaged, hanging tree branches that could be a potential hazard if they fell.
- Inspect playground equipment for damage. Ice and snow can make equipment unsafe for children.
- Inspect walkway surfaces for unsafe conditions. Winter weather can heave sidewalks and present a trip-and-fall hazard.
If you weren’t quite prepared for the effects of snowfall this year, take some time now to begin your preparations for next season. Trident offers a snow and ice removal guide and roof snow loading checklist.
Four ways to prevent winter losses
- Clear roofs of excess snow. Roofs can get easily overloaded with heavy and/or wet snowfalls.
- Ensure that all areas of a building are getting heat: Dead zones and areas with compromised insulation can lead to freeze-ups.
- Make sure the heating system is serviced. Furnaces and boilers need regular maintenance to help ensure continuous operations.
- Have a plan to clear snow: Walkways, parking lots and entrances all need to be cleared to prevent slips and falls.