Roof leaks, loose electrical outlets, and other minor maintenance issues are more likely to escape notice when facilities are unoccupied for long periods. Left unaddressed, they can mushroom into major repairs or replacements. The risk of theft and vandalism also grows in the absence of watchful employees and students.
Follow these tips to help ensure your administrative offices, campuses, and other facilities are in good condition and ready to welcome staff and students back from summer break.
Lay the groundwork
Each year in December, the Fund recommends members shore up their facilities before closing for the holidays. Some of those to do’s are just as relevant during summer break.
Stay on top of equipment maintenance
Defective boilers, fire sprinklers, smoke detectors, fuel tanks, and other equipment can cause accidents that harm people and property. Stay on top of routine inspections and preventative maintenance this summer. If your organization is a Fund member with Property coverage, take advantage of boiler inspections at no additional cost.
Let the air conditioner run
Mold thrives in heat and humidity. Make your facilities less hospitable by setting the air conditioning to 85 degrees or lower. You can also reduce the risk of mold in schools by controlling indoor moisture. For example, give freshly shampooed carpet a chance to dry before closing doors and windows.
Take time to address hazards such as debris, broken stairs, and chemical containers that could injure staff, emergency personnel, contractors, and visitors.
Pro tip: Facilities that meet the definition of "Vacant Buildings " are subject to coverage exclusions. See page five of your Fund coverage agreement for details.
Make security a priority
Consider these strategies to beef up on-site security and reduce the risk of theft and vandalism.
Keep security devices in service
That includes emergency lighting, intruder detection systems, and security cameras. Tell your alarm company about empty facilities, and give them your emergency contact information.
Check facility doors, making sure they're fire code-compliant, in good condition, and that their components, including locks, work as they should.
Store your computers, career and technology program equipment, and other valuables in secured areas, and elevate it to protect against flooding. Valuables include employee and student personally identifiable information (PII).
A strong cybersecurity program protects digital PII, but don’t forget to lock HR offices, special education offices, and other areas that house hard-copy employee and student records.
Consider security guards
You could contract with a vendor to provide 24/7 security or to visit the property at random times during the week.
Maintain a presence
When you go on a long vacation, do you set your lights on a timer and ask your neighbors to keep an eye on the place? You can apply those same strategies to protect temporarily unoccupied property.
Enlist the community
Local law enforcement, first responders, and even neighbors have a vested interest in helping prevent damage, theft, and vandalism. Make sure they know how to contact you if there is an emergency or if they see suspicious activity.
Inspect the property regularly
Choose different days and times to walk school property. Check for weather-related damage, minor maintenance issues you can address, and evidence of tampering.
Install motion or timed lighting
Not only does lighting deter crime, but it also discourages animals from taking up residence in your facilities.
Keep up with landscaping
Trimming trees, lawns, and shrubs is about more than keeping up appearances. Closely cropped landscaping also gives criminals fewer places to hide.
Need to file a claim?
Even with the best preventative measures, incidents can happen. The Fund is here to get your students back in classrooms and your operations back to normal. Fund members with Property coverage can report claims online or by phone at 800.482.7276, x6800.