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Winter and holiday risks for public entities
Don’t let your holiday fun get derailed by avoidable risks.
Winter and holiday risks for public entities
© aetb / Getty Images
As the temperature drops and the holidays quickly approach, communities look to come together to celebrate and continue traditions. Many may say it’s the most exciting time of year. However, it’s important not to lose sight of the additional risks that come with winter activities and holiday cheer. Planning ahead can make all the difference. 

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.

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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.

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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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Take the next step with Munich Re Specialty Insurance

Munich Re Specialty Insurance’s public entity risk solutions team has been in the public entity space for over 30 years. We support the community as part of the community, bringing innovative products designed to create stability and protection during a natural catastrophe or large liability event. As a market leader, we respond with custom products and services that help manage risk with forward-thinking strategies. We understand the importance of knowing each client’s needs and adopt a holistic approach to assessing our clients’ situations across the whole value chain.

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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.
About Munich Re Specialty Insurance
Munich Re Specialty Insurance (MRSI) is a description for the insurance business operations of affiliated companies in the Munich Re Group that share a common directive to offer and deliver specialty property and casualty insurance products and services in North America.
For more information on MRSI, including licensing, regulatory-required, and other information on the operating companies, please click here.

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Michael Foulke
Michael Foulke
Head of Public Entity Municipalities and Transit, Public Entity Risk Solutions
Munich Re Specialty Insurance

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