As wintry weather crescendos in many areas of North America, it is vital to make the necessary preparations to remain safe before, during and after a winter storm. The combination of strong winds, snow, ice and freezing rain can create dangerous conditions, making access to roads, and thus supplies, virtually impossible. Prevention against severe weather is crucial as thousands of people are injured or killed every year in accidents related to conditions caused by winter storms.
The following tips can help you prepare your modular unit and supplies for heavy winter weather:
While shoveling snow around your modular unit, there is potential for exhaustion, dehydration, back injuries or heart attacks. Shoveling is a strenuous activity, especially because cold weather can be tasking on the body. Avoid cold stress by dressing in layers and taking frequent breaks from the elements. Warm up before shoveling, scoop small amounts of snow at a time and, when possible, push the snow instead of lifting it. If you must lift, keep your back straight, lift with your legs (not with your back) and do not turn or twist.
Clearing snow from roofs
When forecasts call for abnormal levels of snowfall, pay special attention to your building’s roofs and their supports. Accumulation of snow and ice on roofs may prevent natural drainage and block venting on flat structures, which could leave your building vulnerable. Clear as much debris, snow and ice as possible from the roof, gutters and downpipes.
Preventing slips on snow and ice
To prevent slips, trips and falls, clear snow and ice from the walking surfaces around your unit. Spread de-icer as quickly as possible after a winter storm and wear proper footwear when walking on snow or ice. A pair of insulated and water-resistant boots with good rubber treads, or rubber over-shoes, is a must for walking during or after a winter storm.
Inspecting your modular unit
When inspecting the exterior of your unit, look for air holes, leaks and other exterior damage. Check all seams and trim coverage well before severe winter weather hits. Repair roof seams and caulking around windows and doors to prevent cold air and water seepage. Make sure the hitch and back section of your unit is supported to keep the wall covering and siding from cracking and warping in freezing temperatures.
Heat pumps and HVAC maintenance
Some of our buildings utilize heat pumps. Unlike a gas furnace that produces a lot of hot air, a heat pump takes a while to warm up. At the end of the day, turn the heater down to a lower temperature and allow it to run overnight instead of turning it off completely. This will help prevent freeze-up and reduce the time it takes to warm up again. Additionally, if your building is equipped with a combination HVAC unit, be sure to change the filters every 30 days to keep the unit running properly.
Installing additions to your modular unit
As the temperature gets colder, consider adding products for optimization of your unit’s performance. Skirting, when used properly, can reduce the risk of damage caused by severe weather. It also keeps moisture levels and temperatures under control so that your modular unit stays at a consistent temperature. Baseboard heater installations also provide additional heat and control the internal heat of your modular space. They should be considered especially if your area experiences below-freezing temperatures.
If you won’t be using your unit at all during the winter, drain all water lines and water heaters, shut off the breaker and fill waste traps with anti-freeze. Remaining safe and warm during the winter months should be top priority.
Head to the National Weather Service site to learn more about winter alerts, science, hazards and storm types and to access snow coverage maps. For additional winterization services, call your local WillScot office at 800-782-1500.