Michigan Weather vs. Public Schools

For most public school districts in Michigan, harsh winter weather has already descended. Last month saw record-breaking amounts of snow in parts of the state.

Even with our most recent blizzard behind us, we could still be battling lake-effect snow, icy terrain, and freezing temperatures well before winter’s end. With the month of January accounting for the most claims reported due to slips, trips, and falls, our members are facing one of the most challenging times of the year for their facilities.

Now is the time when all the precautions and property preparation our public schools have done are put to the test. To ensure your winter weather safety checklist hasn’t failed you, remain diligent and check your buildings often throughout the winter season.

Here are 3 major risks to defend against in a Michigan winter:

Frozen Pipes
image of icicles hanging off of pipes

Freezing presents the greatest risk for pipes located in areas where temperatures are lower than they are in other parts of buildings. Check pipes that run through attics and crawl spaces, as well as areas above ceilings, and remove tiles where applicable to allow heat to reach them. Be sure to check pipes below false floors and areas that are unoccupied and/or heavily insulated, as well.

Keeping unoccupied interior spaces above freezing will help prevent frozen pipes – don’t set the thermostat lower than normal. Be sure to shut off and drain any water systems located in areas subject to freezing.

Keep in mind, there are three main causes for frozen pipes: quick drops in temperature, poor insulation, and thermostats set too low.

Leaky or Snow-Covered Roofs
image of a hole in a school roof due to heavy snow and ice

Ensure you know what type of roofs you have on the buildings, who installed it, the manufacturer, and if you have a service agreement already in place. With this information, you can ensure any repairs fall under existing warranties and when replacements should be scheduled.

The best way to safely inspect a roof is by an internal fixed ladder with a coworker present. If this isn’t possible, install fixed ladders to the exterior of your buildings that have a lockable feature to ensure only school personnel can access it.

Inspect your roofs at least twice a year.

Slips, Trips, and Falls
image of a person's feet in boots walking on an icy sidewalk

Slips, trips, and falls are the number one loss source in the state. To prevent these losses, housekeeping is key. It may seem simple but keeping your boiler rooms, classrooms, and hallways clear of clutter while ensuring the rugs in the hallways and entryways are maintained, can prevent slips and trips.

With bus lots, take the extra step to shovel and salt around the buses first thing in the morning, prior to the drivers showing up to do their morning inspections. Steps on buses can be slick, so always use the Three Points of Contact method – two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand on a surface at the same time.

And finally, never stand on tables and chairs to hang decorations or art. Always use a stepladder to hang or reach high shelves.

Learn more!

To hear straight from our Loss Control Team on these three topics and more, check out our EduSeries webinar, Hidden Dangers: Loss Control Considerations.