Charity Insurance | Social Enterprises | Voluntary Organisations | Community Groups

Preparing your Charity for Bad Weather

The outlook for UK weather at the start of this week looks fairly bleak.  Tuesday is set to be bitterly cold with heavy snow expected over some midland and northern regions.  Snow might continue to fall through the middle and end of the week and the temperature is unlikely to move much above zero for long spells.

If your charity is responsible for a property, there are a number of things you might consider doing to prepare yourselves for cold weather.  One priority would be to keep a disaster recovery plan and update it from time to time.  How would you carry out your services if your premises was effected by bad weather?  How would you communicate with staff, volunteers or service users?

Let us start with the plumbing.  Escape of water and frozen pipes are a common cause of claim for charities.  While it might be late to do much for this cold snap, you might consider the following:

  1. Ensure you are well insulated.  This is not just about keeping warm and being energy efficient; it is also an essential step to prevent pipes from freezing.
  2. Test your water stop cock and ensure it has not stiffened.
  3. Keep an eye open for greening copper pipes, this might be the sign that you are developing plumbing leak

Should I clear a path of snow?

There is a common misconception, perhaps urban myth, that organisations should not try to clear snow or ice from paths in case it increases the chance of litigation against them.  Now any organisation owes a duty of care to service users and the public but it is unlikely that trying to clear snow and ice will increase your chances of being criticised for an unsafe environment.  Follow the government steps to clear your snow and ice effectively:


  • Clear snow early from your charity premises, it is easier to do it when it is loose.
  • Never use water, in fact, look for any sources of run off water too that might freeze and endeavour to deal with them.  Black ice is more treacherous than snow.
  • Use salt on your paths, it will both help melt existing ice and prevent refreezing
  • Pay additional attention to steps, slopes and disabled access and don’t forget the emergency exits.


Other things should be considered too:


  1. Assess the risk at your premises, not just from slippery paths but from other snow hazards such as falling snow from roofs and icicles.
  2. Think about the internal flooring too.  If there is snow and ice outside, there is a chance you will find yourselves with slippery internal floors as the snow people tread in melts.  Prepare for this.
  3. Good lighting can help prevent slips and trips, not just in bad weather too, regularly check the lighting of your premises.
  4. If you plan on using additional heating equipment, ensure it is safe and complies with your insurance conditions too.  Some specific portable heating devices are excluded from insurance cover.