Getting Your Camp Winter Ready

As the leaves have fallen and the snow is soon to come, it is time to consider measures to protect your camp against the foreseen and unforeseen hazards that winter brings. Annually, Church Mutual receives hundreds of claims of frozen pipes and sprinkler systems. And before those in more moderate climates think this can’t happen to them, it’s important to note that some of these losses occur in warmer regions of the country. There are also other property risks that can and should be addressed proactively.

Protect against frozen pipes

Pipes in exterior walls, attics and unheated areas are typically more prone to freezing. Reduce the risk of frozen pipes by winterizing unused buildings or by keeping buildings above 50 degrees. Adequate interior building temperatures reduce the risk of frozen pipes and potential flooding.

Specific measures to maintain building temperature levels and reduce exposure to freezing include:

  • Consider removing a few ceiling tiles to allow warm air to circulate in open space around sprinkler pipes.

  • Insulate attics and crawl spaces. Use pipe insulation to protect pipes from extremely cold temperatures.

During times of extreme cold, letting faucets drip may prevent freezing and relieve pressure if ice does form. Opening cabinets may also allow warm air into the enclosed spaces with pipes.

To avoid frozen toilet and bathroom sink drains, consider splashing RV grade antifreeze into the drains to prevent traps from freezing.

Clearing water and sprinkler lines

In cooler climates, drain the plumbing pipes in buildings that will be unoccupied during the winter season. For added assurance, have a team member conduct routine checks of the property for water damage and any change in building temperature.

Sprinkler systems may also require draining during severe cold weather conditions. Frozen sprinkler pipes can lead to damaged fittings and sprinkler heads as well as obstructions in the piping. Always contact a licensed sprinkler contractor prior to making any changes to the system.

Ice dams and water melt

Ice dams result from heavy snow and poor insulation in roof areas. The best defense against ice dams is to keep the roof free of heavy snow and to keep the attic as cool as possible to prevent thaw and freeze, which results in ice buildup. A word of caution: Use extreme care when removing snow from roofs. Using a snow rake is recommended to avoid potential fall-related injuries.

Critter infiltration

One often overlooked area of winter building maintenance is the infiltration of furry little friends in buildings that can lead to extensive damage. Mitigation measures would include:

  • Foam filling all cracks on exterior foundations, along window and door areas, gaps in the siding or other seams where animals could potentially infiltrate the structure.

  • Plastic window kits to help keep ants, beetles or other insects from finding their way into cabins or buildings.

Off Season Security

If camp locations do not have on on-site manager during winter months:

  • Have a staff member or volunteer check in on the premises 1-2 times per week to avoid issues with vandalism, theft or fire.

  • Install 1-2 motion detection cameras on site that can be monitored off site on a computer or cell phone.

  • Conduct weekly site security sweeps to create more opportunities to identify other potential hazards.

For additional safety or risk management questions, contact Risk Control Central at (800) 554-2642 (Option 4) Ext. 5213 or

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Church Mutual Insurance Company, S.I. (a stock insurer)
P.O. Box 357 | 3000 Schuster Lane | Merrill, WI 54452-0357
Telephone (800) 554-2642 or (715) 536-5577

© 2022 Church Mutual Insurance Company, S.I. All rights reserved. Protecting the Greater Good is a registered trademark of Church Mutual Insurance Company, S.I.

Church Mutual is a stock insurer whose policyholders are members of the parent mutual holding company formed on 1/1/20. S.I. = a stock insurer.