How to Prepare Your Small Business for Winter

With winter approaching, small business owners should focus on more than preparing for the holiday shopping season. You should also think about ways to get your business prepared for the many challenges presented by the wintry conditions.

Understanding the Alerts

In order to stay one step ahead of winter storms and severe weather, regularly check the National Weather Service website for live weather updates and potential winter weather alerts. Understanding the meaning of the alerts will help you plan your response appropriately.

A “winter storm outlook” means there may be a storm of unknown severity in the next two to five days.
An “advisory” means there may be a storm that causes inconveniences, but it will most likely not be life threatening.
A “watch” means there is a chance of heavy snow, sleet, an ice storm or a blizzard within two to three days.
A “warning” means that a storm is imminent, and you and your employees should either stay home or find shelter.

Weathering the Storm

If you must be at work during a winter storm, there are several steps to protect your business and employees by taking precautions.

Have battery-powered or hand-cranked radios on hand so you can stay informed on the latest weather conditions.
Stock up on batteries and emergency supplies, including rock salt, sand and first-aid kits.
Invest in a generator if you have a small business that depends on electricity. Be sure that there is proper ventilation, as generators can cause electrical fires or carbon monoxide poisoning if used incorrectly.

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Calling a Snow Day

As you consider whether or not you should declare a “snow day,” consider the guidelines that the U.S. Department of Labor outlined for situations where inclement weather occurs (such as heavy snow or other types of disasters).

Utilizing Technology and Consultant Expertise

As technology used to predict the weather improves, some businesses are employing “business meteorology” – customizing their marketing strategies to target customers based on real-time changes in the weather. For more long-range strategic planning, small business owners may want to consult with one of the growing number of business meteorology consultancies that can predict weather fluctuations from several days to many months in advance.

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