Preparing your school for winter weather

The temperature is dropping and the frost is starting to bite. Winter weather brings about hazardous conditions and can even result in needing to close your school.

There are a few reasons a school could close due to extreme winter weather, including:

  • too few staff can get in (because transport isn’t running or roads are closed).
  • the school building has been damaged and is unsafe.
  • the school has no heating or lighting.

Whilst some of these reasons can’t always be avoided, here are a few tips to help reduce the chances of needing to close your school and to help prevent accidents:

Gritting

Gritting areas prone to becoming icy with salt is very important for health and safety. These can be walkways, parking areas, entrances, pathways, playgrounds, vehicle access routes to name a few.

Gritting can prevent slips, trips and falls which could otherwise result in absenteeism of pupils, teachers and the wider staff community. It could also prevent any insurance claims should an accident happen.

Shortages of salt in areas of the UK is common place, so it is best to keep a small stock just in case – you can always use it again next year if you need don’t use it all.

A handy tool to help spread salt and grit are seed spreaders (that you might use at home for grass seed). This will help spread the salt evenly and prevent caretakers from hauling heavy bags of salt around with a shovel.

External pipework

Make sure you check that any external pipework has lagging so that it stays protected from frost. Frozen pipes can disastrously affect the heating or water systems in the school.

Also check the external overflow pipes from plant rooms or WC’s are not leaking. Dripping water will freeze on the floor and can cause dangerous patches of ice.

If you are operating a trace heating system, be sure to check that it’s working on a regular basis. A trace heating system is a tiny metallic strip which has a small electric charge and keeps the pipework just above freezing temperature.

Boilers

Check that all boilers have been serviced and are working correctly, plus that all radiator valves are operating correctly.

Outside lighting

Check outside lighting and time clocks are all in full operation, as darker nights restrict the safe access and egress of the place of work, which is a legal requirement.

There will undoubtedly be other risks you will be able to identify that are specific to your own school, so be sure to take the necessary precautions for each.

In early 2018 will we also be launching our Risk Assessment module, making it even easier to manage hazards. Keep an eye out for this new, helpful addition or sign up now for a free trial so you’ll be the first to know when it’s available.

Stay safe this winter!