Though I live in the South, I can keep up with how the weather is in the Midwest by watching Facebook updates of my friends and, especially, the meat markets that I follow. If my friends start complaining about snow shovels or snowblowers, I know the weather is getting bad. If meat markets start closing early, it’s really bad.

Winter storms are a fact of life in huge swaths of the United States, and it’s getting worse every year. I know companies in Texas that struggled last year with extreme cold temperatures and power outages. My heart goes out to everyone who is having to deal with major storms this week. I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to see 2 or 3 feet of snow on your sidewalk, or 5-foot drifts after the snow plow completely blocks your driveway. I’ve had to play the winter game of “Am I in the right lane?” I’ve had to push cars off slick spots in the road.

If you are a meat facility owner, a blizzard affects you in several ways. As an employer, you have to look after the safety of your employees. You may have products to get out, but if your staff is unable to get to your plant safety, you have to face the realities of production delays. You may also have to adjust to delays in the delivery of raw materials and supplies and the shipping of finished goods.

As a meat market, you need to start reminding your customers well in advance about the coming bad weather. Encourage them to come out to the market ahead of time and stock up for bad weather. Offer cold-weather favorites like stew meat and pot roast, or to-go containers of chili or hearty soups. It’s also important to be active on social media at this time. If you are closed or operating at reduced hours due to inclement weather, let your followers know.

Best of luck to everyone who is getting hit by extreme snows and temperatures. Stay warm and stay safe!

Sam Gazdziak