Submit your email address below to receive email updates from Business24.
Water bosses are urging the North West's businesses to avoid the misery of mopping up a wet and washed-out new year.
Last year many small businesses shut up shop as festive temperatures plunged, only to find themselves returning to work with a flood of water rather than a flood of customers.
Water company United Utilities said frozen and burst pipes caused misery to many people, and the vast majority of problems were due to customers' own internal pipework.
The company's campaign manager, Rose Francis said: "Last year was a record-breakingly cold winter and this year we don't want to take chances. We're urging all our customers to get winter wise, because if their own pipes are at fault we can only give them advice.
"Shops and other properties left empty over holidays or even short periods of very cold weather were hit by a deluge of burst pipes after the cold weather turned the water inside them to ice. But you can protect yourself," she said.
United Utilities wants business owners to reduce the risk of coming back to work and facing the headache of ruined equipment and lost custom by insulating pipes and, if temperatures really drop, leaving the heating on a low setting.
Other top tips are:
"Keep an eye on the temperature over the festive break and check your premises on a regular basis. If your taps aren't running, it could mean your pipes are frozen and that's the first sign that you might have a burst. Switch your stop cock off and have the number of a good plumber to hand," said Rose.
For more information, including what to do in an emergency, visit www.unitedutilities.com/getwinterwise