It’s already December. For many residential properties, winter has descended. For others, it hasn’t happened yet. Regardless of whether properties are in the cold north or relatively warmish sun belt states, experts tell GlobeSt.com that winterization preparation for winterization should already be in place.
It’s Never Too Early
“We start preparing for the snow season in September each year,” said Morgan Properties’ Senior Vice President of Facilities Andy Hoff. He said that all services teams are asked to test their snow equipment to determine what might need repair. Morgan Properties also has “truck rodeo” events in snowbelt regions. “We bring an entire region together with the company’s trucks on full display,” Hoff commented. “Each site team installs the plow, salt spreader, emergency yellow lights ad first-aid kits.” Prizes are set up to ensure complete checklist items, and everyone gets a free lunch.
Lendlease Communities’ Fort Drum Mountain Community Homes’ staff also starts winter preparation in the fall. “We start deploying educational materials to residents,” said Dean Harrison, Fort Drum’s Project Director . “These materials provide helpful tips, like advising residents to remove their outdoor hoses to prevent pipes from freezing.” He added that new and existing staff is trained on winter protocols. “We require that all of our staff vehicles carry ice melt so we can consistently promote safe conditions across the installation as the conditions change,” Harrison added.
Then there are areas that experience perpetual winter. “North Haven Communities is located at Fort Wainwright in Alaska, an arctic environment where winter starts at the end of September and runs until approximately April/May,” observed Ron Johnson, Lendlease Communities’ project director with North Haven. “When snow falls for the first time here it never melts, which presents a variety of challenges.” The challenges include extreme temperatures in addition to all of the show. Then there is extended darkness. “The sun won’t rise until 10:30 a.m. and sets at 3:30 p.m.,” Johnson said. The North Haven team is prepared for these extenuating circumstances, however. “We have to be efficient at making internal home repairs and maintenance fixes, despite the weather conditions in the winter,” Johnson said.
Supply Chain Challenges
Hoff, Harrison and Johnson acknowledged that increased supply chain costs and constraints can create some challenges. “Alaska has always experienced supply chain issues, because it’s quite far from the lower 48 states,” Johnson observed. Also increasing are the cost of utilities. “We’re experienced at managing Alaskan winters and it has never effected the overall success of our winter preparedness,” Johnson added.
Meanwhile, in the lower 48, Fort Drum and Morgan Properties order supplies months in advance. Morgan Properties’ Hoff explained that the company’s procurement staff begins negotiating pricing on salt, magnesium and calcium during the late summer months, and locks those prices in. “Since we know what to expect from each winter, we can effectively budget for it, and secure what we need well before the first snowfall,” Harrison added.
Johnson and Harrison also said that educating residents on what to expect during the winter months can also be an important step in winterizing. “Since residents shovel their own driveways, we advise them to secure supplies well in advance of the first snowfall,” Harrison said. “Residents can best prepare for winter by engaging with our educational resources.”
Johnson agreed, adding that many who are stationed in Fort Wainwright never experienced an Alaskan winter. A “Welcome to Winter” resident educational program helps prepare those living there. Also included in the education is interior layouts. This includes “pulling furniture away from heaters so warm can circulate throughout the house, keeping windows firmly shut so the windows or internal pipes don’t freeze and keeping entry points to the home clear and free of ice,” Johnson said.
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