Key Tips for Winterizing Your Cemetery

December 21, 2021

According to research, more people die during the winter months than at any other time of the year. In the past, cemeteries often stored the bodies of the deceased in receiving vaults until the ground warmed enough to dig a hole for the grave. Modern technology has made this practice rare. This can be a comfort to grieving families and a challenge for cemetery owners.

Since modern cemeteries can’t just shut down during the winter months, preparing them for winter is an essential task. Roadways need to be clear of ice and snow and you need to protect property from harsh winter conditions and the business from liability risks. Cemetery insurance can help protect cemetery owners from the risks associated with winter weather.

Preparing Your Cemetery for Winter

The four main components of winterizing a cemetery are maintenance procedures, site and facility designs, operational strategies and landscape designs. These cemetery winterization tips can help you address each of these areas.

Maintenance Procedures

Take these steps during the fall while your staff isn’t as busy with routine lawn care and maintenance:

  • Clean and drain irrigation hoses and lines
  • Winterize and perform routine maintenance on backhoes, trucks and other motorized equipment
  • Turn off the supply lines and drain all fountains and toilets that are not heated or use antifreeze to prevent freezing
  • Test all blowers and snowplows

Site and Facility Designs

These steps will help you adjust your site and facility designs to reduce your liability risks and maintenance requirements and improve operational efficiency:

  • Cover mausoleum structures with pitched roofs to avoid the expense and liability associated with flat roofs
  • Add adjacent lawn areas to parking lots for cemeteries that experience heavy snowfall to provide an area to store snow
  • Manage and control snow that slides from pitched roofs by implementing appropriate landscape and architectural designs
  • Consult with your cemetery insurance provider for risk mitigation tips

Operational Strategies

Fall is also a good time to review and revamp your maintenance procedures by establishing a supporting set of policies:

  • Create a winterization checklist that includes all of your winterizing procedures and requirements
  • Train new staff and retrain existing staff on maintenance and winterization expectations and procedures
  • Implement emergency staffing plans to ensure you have enough staff during winter weather events
  • Create a snow removal priority plan and update it as needed

Landscape Designs

These steps will help your landscape and lawns live through the winter and revive more quickly in the spring:

  • Adjust your mowers to leave the grass taller during fall cuttings
  • Trim damaged or weak tree limbs that could break due to ice, snow or wind
  • Use tubing to prevent damage from deer rutting or eating the bark
  • Cut and remove seasonal garden debris to avoid pests and soil-borne diseases

Properly winterizing your cemetery helps ensure that guests are safe, property does not get damaged and business can continue throughout the winter months. Winterizing your property will save you time, effort and money.

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