Snowed In: Handling Personnel during Winter Weather Events

December 14, 2020 | By: Molly Looman

When snow and ice begin to fall, property managers do not want to be caught empty-handed. While preventative maintenance steps are essential to ensuring a smooth recovery after a winter weather events, people and staff are at the core of that preventative plan. Here are a few scenarios to consider when it comes to staffing in the snow.

Monday through Friday

Weather does not often follow the schedule people want it to. However, weather events occurring on a weekday make it easier to prepare for and react to in terms of staff. Tom Melton, a chief engineer with Madison Marquette, said it is helpful to have a full staff when snow or ice hits.

“Hopefully, the bad weather will come Monday through Friday and it will come in during the day or late in the evening when engineers are still there,” Melton said.

This is a great time to prepare for an event that may be happening over the weekend and take those necessary preventative steps such as salting sidewalks, preparing entrances, and gathering snow removal equipment.

Unfortunately, if an event occurs later into the evening, there may have to be tough conversations about who goes home and who remains to maintain the property. Many commercial real estate organizations have instituted protocols for engineers to stay in nearby hotels when a weather event is in the forecast. Ensure that a plan is in place that lays out personnel protocol in the event of a late weather event.


Sometimes the snowstorm decides to occur in the early hours of the morning or in the dead of night when an engineer may not be present. In this scenario, it is all about teamwork.

“If it happens over the weekend when nobody is there, if you have 24/7 security, you can lean on them to help you out and direct them over the phone until it is safe to drive in,” Melton said.

Weather events occurring overnight is something that happens, which is why it is important to educate all team members on the sections of the emergency protocols and business continuity plan that they need to be aware of in this instance. Cross-training is an important part of securing the safety of a property and instructing security or other staff on how to react to a winter weather event is a great example.

Before the Storm

There are plenty of steps to be taken to prepare a building for a winter weather event long before the first snowflake falls. These steps can save money, time, and energy.

“Preventative maintenance is very important as the property will be prepared to handle problems before they become problems,” Melton said.

Sealing cracks on exposed pipes, ensuring a proper seal on all windows, and inspecting the roof for possible openings are all key parts of the preventative maintenance process. Engineers should be looking for these items year-round but especially before the winter months where small cracks can create major repairs after a weather event.