Geography plays a role in freeze loss. And climate risks are becoming more frequent and severe due to climate change, exposing businesses to more extreme weather patterns that threaten their business operations and continuity. But you can stay resilient when you know where your risks lie and how to mitigate them.
"It's common to think that only warm climate areas are at risk of the freeze hazard," says Jessica Waters, vice president, manager for climate and structural resilience. "However, loss history shows that the hazard is just as prevalent in areas accustomed to cold weather. The extreme cold brought by polar vortexes has caused lots of freeze damage, especially when facilities are shut down for a weekend or holiday.
Find your freeze
FM Global's new Worldwide Freeze Map is used to determine necessary freeze protection for pipes, tanks and outdoor equipment, and is based on 100-year return period daily minimum temperatures (100-year DMT). Geographical regions having a significant weather-related freeze hazard are identified by the 20°F (-6.7°C) or colder temperature bands, which are a good indicator for freeze damage based on historic losses as well as laboratory and field experiments.
"When it comes to the freeze hazard, it's the things that we can’t see that are often of most concern."Jessica Waters, FM Global vice president, manager for climate and structural resilience
"When it comes to the freeze hazard, it's the things that we can't see that are often of most concern," says Waters. The pipe behind the wall without adequate insulation. The sprinkler riser in the parking garage that stands unprotected where the water and air meet. Under winter conditions, these can lead to major freeze losses.
"Open windows, vent openings, skylights, or cold stairwells can increase the risk of a frozen sprinkler pipe or domestic water line," Waters further explains. "Water expands when it freezes and will crack pipes. Most people don't realize they have a problem with a freeze until it warms up again, the ice thaws, and the leaks start. These are especially difficult to find and repair when behind a wall or above a ceiling." Also at risk are locations that are protected by dry sprinkler systems. "The areas near the dry-pipe valve and air compressor need to be at least 40°F/3°C," she indicates. "This is especially important when the power is out, or temperatures are below normal for more than a day."
Waters summarizes, "A power outage from severe weather will result in a disruption. But if the building loses heat, the freeze can cause a much bigger disaster and a lot more headaches."
Questions to ask:
- Do you have potential freeze exposures?
- If so, have you prepared to prevent freeze?
- How can you best minimize potential damage and impact to operations?
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