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32 percent of US firms fail winter weather preparedness test

In a recent poll of American companies, FM Global assessed winter weather preparedness and found that nearly one-third of U.S. firms are ill-equipped to deal with a wintertime disaster.
In a recent poll of American companies, FM Global assessed winter weather preparedness and found that nearly one-third of U.S. firms are ill-equipped to deal with a wintertime disaster.

In a recent poll of American companies, FM Global assessed winter weather preparedness and found that nearly one-third of U.S. firms are ill-equipped to deal with a wintertime disaster. According to the report, 32 percent of companies received a winter weather preparedness grade of C or lower, while 52 percent of U.S. workers said they are concerned with their employers' level of preparedness and continuity of operations planning for winter-related crises.

"America's feedback speaks to the need for businesses to be more proactive, and overall more resilient, when it comes to winter weather," said Brion Callori, senior vice president, engineering and research, FM Global. "Insurance won't bring back lost customers, market share or fix a damaged corporate reputation for unprepared businesses. A business continuity plan which has been well-tested and communicated to employees can address such risk and help companies avoid costly physical and financial losses."

The firm conducted its study in February 2015, using the severe weather impacting the East Coast as a catalyst for bringing preparedness to the forefront across the nation.

The mutual insurance provider offered several tips for better addressing winter weather risks, including:

Inspect your roof for load tolerance – Snow is heavy, so you want to make sure your roof can withstand the weight of a few feet, not just a few inches of the fluffy white stuff. Make sure to have your room inspected regularly and repaired whenever a fault is found that could affect its ability to bear weight.

Create a hot siteHaving a hot site prepped and ready to go through the winter will ensure that if there is a disaster that affects your primary offices, you'll be able to minimize or negate downtime entirely. A hot site should include everything your employees need to do their jobs remotely, and be just as secure from a winter disaster as your main location.

Plan for the worst – Expect pipes to freeze, walkways to be slippery and other weather-related disasters to happen, and plan to avoid and recover quickly from them. This is particularly true for businesses located in warmer climates, where a cold weather crisis could come as an even bigger surprise.

Plan for specific scenarios – Winter brings very specific threats, so businesses can plan for exactly what could happen if the roof collapses or roads are too icy to drive on. Make sure to assess each threat and integrate them into your business continuity plan.

The creation of an adequate continuity strategy may require outside assistance. Consider hiring expert business continuity consultants to minimize risk and optimize preparedness for any business crisis.