4 risks to watch this winter
Here are four risks for public entities to be mindful of this winter.
1. Snow removal operations
Snowplows can damage roads, potentially leading to potholes or uneven roadways. In the winter months, with varied precipitation and temperatures, the damaged roadways can then deteriorate quickly. Guardrails and road dividers can be damaged or hidden by snow moved by snowplows. Therefore, properly training drivers on how to maneuver snowplows is imperative, along with monitoring roadways and addressing any concerns as soon as possible. Pretreating roadways when a winter weather event is expected can make all the difference in preventing accidents. Don’t forget also to apply salt or sand to roads.
Beyond roadways, don’t forget to apply salt or sand to parking lots, building entrances, walkways and stairs. Consider closing nonessential buildings until snow and ice removal is complete to keep the public and employees safe. Clearly mark paths and stairs that haven’t been treated and people shouldn’t use. Finally, during weather events, use social media to update the public on road closures and unsafe conditions. Many people might need a slight nudge to stay home rather than risk a trip in a vehicle.
2. Holiday parades
Parades can be a fun tradition. However, property damage and injuries from float collisions, participants getting on and o floats, and children getting too close to the parade are far too common. Communities should have procedures in place that ensure parade routes are secure and emergency routes are kept clear. When planning a parade, take into account the ability of first responders and emergency vehicles, both those participating in the parade and those not, to respond if an emergency were to take place.
Communities should consider the use of spotters along parade routes and utilize a driver safety checklist that covers items such as visibility requirements, driver communication and speed limits. If possible, communities should employ a parade director who organizes the parade and has direct communication with law enforcement and emergency responders.
3. School and community events
School days and community events often overlap with severe winter weather and snow accumulation. Mixing school and community events with winter weather can lead to vehicle accidents and slip, trip and fall accidents, along with other property and liability concerns. When in doubt, it is better to cancel these events as soon as possible to prevent potential insurance claims, injuries or other incidents.
4. Outdoor activities
Nothing warms you up more in the cold months than fun outdoor activities. Sledding and snow tubing can be exhilarating, but public entities need to consider the risks associated with these activities. Physical hazards, such as dangerous runouts near sledding and tubing areas, should be noted. If risk can’t be mitigated, precautions should be taken to ensure activities can’t take place. Ice skating, ice fishing and other recreational activities often occur in public areas. Bodies of water on public property should be monitored to confirm safe activities are taking place. Water rescue procedures and guidelines should be reviewed with freezing or near-freezing conditions in mind. Emergency response plans should be tested in realistic conditions. Finally, signage should be utilized to mark unsafe conditions, such as thin ice, and indicate where and when travel by ice is prohibited.
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Learn more about Munich Re Specialty Insurance’s public entity risk solutions here.This article was produced by Zywave, in collaboration with Munich Re Specialty Insurance.
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