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Surviving Summer: Safety Tips for Small Businesses

If the phrase cruel summer means anything to you, you know that the summer months bring more than fun in the sun and long lazy days. As a small business owner, you know that long sunny days don’t necessarily mean worry-free times. In fact, summer comes fully stocked with its own set of risks and hazards that you’ll need to be prepared for. Whether you’re facing extreme heat or summer storms, here are some things you can do to prep your business for the summer months.

Special Considerations for the Summer

Summer months generally signify vacations and poolside beverages, but for small business owners the summer may mean that the busy season is here at last. Maybe you’re a contractor or cleaner and summer vacations give you an ideal opportunity to boost business while owners are out of town. An uptick in business is obviously great, but you’ll want to think about a few things to get you through the summer.

  • Seasonal staff: Plan to hire ahead if summer marks a period of rapid growth. Make sure you can accommodate the additional employees and ensure their safety in the heat.
  • Be flexible: Know that you may need to adapt and adjust working times if the heat becomes extreme and allow employees some time to rest and re-hydrate as needed.
  • Consider facility needs (or lack thereof): Depending on where you’re located, intense heat may force you and your customers indoors. In other locations, the summer may mean a reason to be outdoors. Make sure you have any necessary facilities or outdoor spaces to accommodate summer customers and employee safety.
  • Upgrade signage and spaces in advance: The summer often feels like the time for renewed motivation and customers are ready to embrace that mindset. To set yourself apart from competition in the summer months, make sure your facilities are cleaned out and spruced up, and your signage is freshened up.

Get Ready for the Heat

Many small businesses don’t have the luxury of indoor accommodations. Maybe you’re a landscaper, contractor, or cleaner moving from job to job. Maybe you’re constantly on the move, making deliveries. Whatever duties your business requires, you may not find yourself cooling off in the AC. If this sounds familiar, make sure you’re doing the following to stay safe in the heat.

For Your People

  • Hydration: Provide easy access to water for employees and customers and encourage regular hydration. Keep plenty of water stocked in easily accessible places.
  • Cooling Stations: Set up areas with fans, air conditioning, or shaded outdoor spaces to help employees and customers cool down.
  • Breaks: Ensure that employees take frequent breaks in cool environments, especially those working outdoors or in hot buildings.
  • Sunscreen: Supply sunscreen if employees or customers are spending time outside.
  • Training: Educate employees on the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, and train them what to do if anyone begins showing symptoms.
  • First Aid: Keep first aid kits stocked with supplies to treat heat-related illnesses, such as cold packs and oral rehydration salts.

For Your Facilities

  • HVAC Maintenance: Ensure air conditioning systems are serviced and in good working order to maintain a comfortable indoor environment.
  • Pest Control: Implement regular pest control measures as summer can bring an increase in insects and rodents.
  • Outdoor Spaces: Maintain outdoor areas by regularly checking for hazards like slippery surfaces, loose tiles, or broken furniture.

For Your Equipment and Vehicles

  • Vehicle preparation: Outfit vehicles with necessary items, such as extra water and first aid. It’s a good idea to also perform regular maintenance that will help in the heat, such as coolant levels, pressures and sufficient windshield wipers.
  • Maintenance: Regularly inspect and maintain all equipment, especially those that may overheat or be affected by high temperatures.
  • Training: Ensure employees are trained on the safe operation of equipment, particularly new hires or temporary summer staff.

Avoid Summer-Related Emergencies

Although summertime may conjure images of beaches and sunshine, there are some hazards that you can prepare yourself for—most notably, risks related to weather damage and fire hazards. Summers can bring large storms, water damage and extra traffic obstacles. Cornell University reports that there are an average of 100,000 summer thunderstorms win the U.S. each year and 10,000 of those are considered severe. Make sure you’re prepared for the summer sizzles by planning ahead.

Emergency Preparedness for the Summer

Regardless of the season, you want to ensure your employees are prepped for any emergency they may encounter.

  • Plan: Review and update emergency plans for extreme weather conditions, such as hurricanes, storms, or heatwaves. Make sure you have clearly marked safe zones should a space become dangerous in a storm.
  • Drills: Conduct emergency drills to ensure all employees know the procedures.
  • Supplies: Stock up on emergency supplies, including water, non-perishable food, flashlights, and batteries in vehicles and on site. Make sure your team is ready should they encounter heavy travel traffic on summer roads or summer power outages that render AC units unusable.

A little preparation goes a long way towards a thriving summer. Make sure you’re ready for the months ahead.