Insurance Blog

snow roof

With more snow on the way in the upcoming weeks, Baldwin / Welsh & Parker Insurance Agencies wants to remind you to continue working to prevent property damage due to snow, ice and spring melting. Here are some terrific checklists to review and put on your to-do list:
  1. Remove excess snow from the roof. Prevent the need for water damage restoration and encourage water flow by carefully removing excess snow from the roof or hiring a contractor to do this for you.
  2. Clear gutters, drains and downspouts: When rains and rapid snowmelts are imminent, cleaning gutters and drains will direct water away from the building. Make sure a channel to the storm drain is clear of debris.
  3. Move the snow: After a winter storm, move piled snow away from the property’s foundation.
  4. Secure property on lower levels. Move items up onto waterproof shelving, to higher levels of your property, or have waterproof containers to help prevent water damage.

In addition, here is great information offered by the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety (DPS), the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services (DFS) and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA):

Homeowners, tenants, and businesses should be cognizant of the danger posed by heavy snow loads on roofs, and the importance of recognizing the warning signs of potential structural weaknesses. In many instances, the risks posed by accumulated snow can be mitigated by safely removing snow from roofs. Flat and low pitched roofs, most often found on industrial buildings, but also used in certain home designs, are at the greatest risk of buckling under heavy snow and ice accumulations.

To safely remove snow from roofs, the following tips are recommended:

DO

  • Use a snow rake for pitched roofs (available at most hardware stores) to remove snow from your roof.
  • Start from the edge and work your way into the roof.
  • Try to shave the snow down to 2 or 3 inches on the roof instead of scraping the roof clean, which will risk damage to your shingles or other roof covering.
    • Keep all ladders, shovels and roof rakes away from utility wires.
    • Plastic shovels are usually best. Metal tools may cause damage to your roof.
    • Shovel snow from flat roofs throwing the snow over the side away from the building.
  • Remove large icicles carefully if they’re hanging over doorways and walkways. Consider knocking down icicles through windows using a broom stick.
  • Wear protective headgear and goggles when performing any of these tasks.
  • Consider hiring professionals to do the job. The combination of heights plus ice makes this one of the more dangerous house chores. If you choose to do the task yourself, have someone outside with you to assist.
  • Keep gutters and drains clean, free of ice and snow and keep downspouts clean at ground level.

DON’T

  • Unless approved by a registered professional engineer, don’t add your weight or the weight of equipment to the roof.
  • Don’t use a ladder since ice tends to build up on both the rungs of the ladder and the soles of your boots.
  • Don’t use blow torches, open-flame, or electric heating devices like hair dryers or heat guns to remove snow and ice.
  • Don’t try to remove ice or icicles from utility wires or meters. Call your utility company for assistance.

How to Recognize Problems with Roofs

  • Sagging roofs
  • Severe roof leaks
  • Cracked or split wood members
  • Bends or ripples in supports
  • Cracks in walls or masonry
  • Sheared off screws from steel frames
  • Sprinkler heads that have dropped down below ceiling tiles
  • Doors that pop open
  • Doors or windows that are difficult to open
  • Bowed utility pipes or conduit attached at ceiling
  • Creaking, cracking or popping sounds

What to Do if You Have Problems

  • If you notice any signs that you have a problem with your roof, or suspect a gas leak, leave the building immediately without touching light switches and call 9-1-1 from safely outside.
  • For general questions, call your local building or fire department business line.

Other Safety Tips for Homeowners

  • Clear snow away from furnace and dryer exhaust vents to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Make sure you have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on every level of your home.
  • Clear snow from fire hydrants near your home or business.
  • Clear snow from storm drains near your home or business to prevent street flooding.

#  #  #

Baldwin / Welsh & Parker Insurance Agencies has four offices in eastern Massachusetts—Wayland, Bedford, Hudson and Winthrop. We are here to help you make sure you have the coverage needed to maximize your protection in the event of damage or loss. Call us! 

Published in Homeowners

 

Winter will be storming into the area bringing snow, ice and plummeting temperatures that can wreak havoc on plumbing. A ruptured pipe can cause extensive, costly damage and disrupt your life or business. Worse, floodwater can pose numerous safety and health risks, ranging from electric shock to illness from waterborne pathogens or even toxic mold.

With your family or business on the line, you will want to do everything you can to prevent water from freezing inside your plumbing; or if the unforeseeable happens and you find your pipes frozen - taking the steps to prevent pipes from bursting and safely thaw them.

A frozen pipe will not necessarily burst if the faucet valve is open to release pressure moving down the pipe.

Start with prevention:

Here are five steps you can take right now to reduce the risk of frozen pipes. Make sure you winterize your property outdoors, draining pools and irrigation systems and hoses, insulating and covering outdoor faucets and securing doors and windows in garages and outbuildings with water supplies. Also, be sure to follow these tips from the American Red Cross:

  1. Check around the home for other areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas. Look in the basement, crawl space, attic, garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated.
  2. Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
  3. When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe, even at a trickle, helps prevent pipes from freezing.
  4. Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
  5. If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.

If pipes freeze, don’t panic, do this:

If you wake up one morning and the water won’t come on in your kitchen, don’t panic. While horrifying visions of water filling crawl spaces and mold spores sprouting may be unavoidable, a frozen pipe will not necessarily burst if the faucet valve is open to release pressure moving down the pipe. Take a deep breath, and then follow these American Red Cross tips to safely thaw your pipe:

  1. If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Likely places for frozen pipes include against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.
  2. Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt ice in the pipe.
  3. Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device.
  4. Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you can not thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.
  5. Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.

These tips should help minimize the risk plumbing ruptures from frozen pipes. But sometimes nature simply shoves aside our best efforts and the worst happens. And of course, make sure you call your agent at Baldwin / Welsh & Parker to make sure you have protection in the event you find yourself facing a water damage catastrophe from frozen, ruptured pipes. 

Published in Blog
Sunday, 04 December 2016 20:16

Developing a Cold Weather Plan

A cold weather plan for your facility should be an integral part of your overall maintenance plan for the building and equipment as well as part your emergency response/contingency plan that helps your business respond to and manage an emergency event. Here are some tips to help you develop your cold weather plan.

 

Creating the Plan. Develop a written plan to include actions to be taken during these junctures:

  • Before the onset of winter
  • When a winter storm is imminent and/or damaging cold temperatures are expected
  • After a winter storm and/or prolonged cold weather A plan is only as good as its execution. With that in mind, it is critical to the successful mitigation of damage to your facilities from the winter weather to include the following elements as part of your Cold Weather Plan:
  • Accountability for overall implementation, including pre-winter inspections
  • Defined roles and responsibilities for outlined activities and responses
  • Initial and annual training
  • Annual review of plan to include evaluation of effectiveness and identifying improvement opportunities
  • To aid you in developing your plan, ask your team to consider some “what ifs,” such as:
  • What if you lose heat to the building? What is your contingency plan?
  • What if the facility is closed (weather, holidays, etc.) AND extreme weather is expected? How will you monitor your facility? Will someone be checking on the facility daily?
  • What if a fire protection sprinkler pipe freezes and bursts? Is there someone on the premises who knows how to shut the system off? What about other systems that use water?
  • What if there are areas that you know could be susceptible to freezing? How are you going to monitor them and what steps are you going to take should the temperature become dangerously low?

Before the Onset of Winter

Inspect the Building Develop a checklist to ensure:

  • Openings around exterior walls such as windows, doors, or other openings are sealed
  • Equipment penthouses are secured from cold air infiltration
  • Louvers are closed or sealed
  • Dampers on ducts leading to the outside are closed (if possible)
  • Attics and other areas susceptible to the cold are properly insulated
  • Adequate air flow to maintain heat in all areas of the building to a minimum of 40ºF
  • Roof is in good condition or make repairs as needed – Drains, drain pipes, and gutters are free of debris – Roof cover is free of cracks or blisters – Decking is free of rust or other signs of deterioration – Flashing is secured – There are no cracked or bent roof supports (beams, columns, joists)

Check Utilities and Process Equipment

  • Check and repair heating systems as needed to include boilers, furnaces, ovens, process heaters, etc.
  • Inspect process, water, condensate, steam lines subject to freezing for proper insulation or heat tracing
  • Drain, blow out, or flush lines for seasonal or idle equipment
  • Check alternate fuel supplies for operability and supply adequacy

Check Water-Based Fire Protection Equipment

  • Make sure all your equipment has been checked in accordance with national fire protection association (NFPA) 25, Standard for the Inspection, Testing and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Equipment
  • Be certain that central station water flow alarms are working properly
  • Ensure areas including concealed spaces (attics, above false ceilings, under raised floors, etc.) are heated to 40ºF or greater
  • Dry sprinkler systems – Drain water from low point drains – Ensure piping is properly pitched and replace broken or missing pipe hangers – Check system for air leaks and repair if needed – Make sure low air pressure alarm is functioning
  • Fire pump – Check pump house temperature » Electric engine driver—should be maintained at 40ºF or greater » Diesel engine driver—should be maintained at 70ºF or greater – Ensure suction source is protected from freezing

Identify and Align Resources. The time to identify needed resources is before the winter season starts. Resource needs are going to vary depending on your location and operations. You may need resources such as:

  • Qualified contractor to remove snow and ice from the roof
  • Emergency generator
  • Fuel supplies for critical operations such as fire protection equipment, processes, or on-site generators
  • Snow removal services to ensure access to the property

When a Winter Storm and/or Deep Freeze Is on the Way

  • Monitor weather reports for information to include power outages, potential damage, access to facilities and prepare for action
  • If needed, activate the emergency response team
  • Monitor temperatures in areas susceptible to freezing or significant temperature fluctuations
  • Monitor snow loads of roofs, especially in areas subject to drifts, and take action as needed
  • Clear snow from outside sprinkler control valves and hydrants to keep them accessible
  • Prepare for possible power outage
  • Remove ice dams

After the Storm

  • If needed, conduct a damage assessment and secure resources to complete repairs
  • Initiate salvage operations
  • If power was lost, make sure you have a plan to bring electrical loads back on line to prevent power surges that could damage equipment

For additional resources on cold weather hazards and developing a contingency plan visit the Hanover Risk Solutions website under Preparing for Severe Weather.

 

Thank you to our friends at Hanover Risk Solutions who provided this terrific information!

Published in Blog
Sunday, 04 December 2016 20:06

Driving in Ice or Snow? Go Nice and Slow!

From IIABA Trusted Choice®

Cars driving in the snow

When staying home is not an option and you must brave winter roads, Baldwin / Welsh & Parker Trusted Choice® independent insurance agents advise you to remember the ageless moral of the tortoise and hare: Slow and easy wins the race.

From snow blizzards and white-outs to the dreaded black ice, the hazards of winter roadways must be negotiated carefully if you and your vehicle are to arrive at your destination safely. Even with the use of de-icing agents and sand, your chances of slip, sliding away into a ditch, barrier or other car are great. Beyond keeping your vehicle in top winterized condition, caution is the rule of the winter road.

Here are a few helpful winter safe driving tips direct from the experts at AAA:

  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly. To regain traction and avoid skids, apply the gas slowly. And remember that it takes longer to slow down on icy roads, so allow extra time to brake before a stop.
  • Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads, including accelerating, stopping, and turning. Allow extra driving time. Driving slowly also gives you time to maneuver.
  • The safest following distance on normal dry pavement is three to four seconds. On ice or snow, allow eight to 10 seconds of following time. You need the increased margin of safety in order to provide the longer stopping distances required on ice and snow.
  • Know your brakes. Threshold braking is the best way to stop, regardless of the type of brakes on your vehicle. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal. If a wheel locks, release the brake and reapply.
  • Don’t stop if you can avoid it. On slippery roads, it’s much easier to accelerate while the car is still rolling than to start moving from a full stop. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it.
  • Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on a slippery hill will cause your wheels to spin. Increase speed before you reach the hill, and let that energy carry you to the top. If possible, allow the car in front of you to crest a steep incline before attempting it yourself.
  • Never stop while going up a hill. Starting from a full stop on a hill can be impossible. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed downhill as slowly as possible.

If you can, stay home and watch the snow from indoors. Even if you drive well in the snow, others on the road may not.

Sources:
http://exchange.aaa.com/safety/roadway-safety/winter-driving-tips/
http://exchange.aaa.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/How-To-Go-On-Ice-and-Snow.pdf
http://www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov/weather/weather_events/snow_ice.htm http://www.drivingfast.net/track/threshold-braking.htm#.UM5NAXfWbyY
Published in Blog

Contact Us Today

Bedford, MA - 781-275-2114

Hudson, MA - 978-562-5652

Wayland, MA - 508-358-5383

Winthrop, MA - 617-846-0731

Memberships/Awards

trusted choice Baldwin Welsh Parker

S5 Box

Login

Register

You need to enable user registration from User Manager/Options in the backend of Joomla before this module will activate.