Monday, February 21, 2011

Effects of Winter & Cold Weather on Schools


Being in the Northeast, we certainly get snow in the winter but this year it has been worse than ever in the volume and duration of snow and extremely low temperatures. Extreme temperatures, heavy volumes of snow, ice, melting & re-freezing have an effect on school operations, students and faculty, the facility, and the school incident management process. For example, an evacuation for a fire in freezing temperatures can cause cold weather injuries on students within a very short amount of time.

Here are some observations or points for discussion concerning adverse effects of cold weather:
  • The freezing, melting, and refreezing caused the earth under the concrete to swell not allowing three external doors to open which would be used in an evacuation.
    • This was forwarded to school safety committee and adjustments to evacuation were made until the ground thaws in warmer temperatures.
  • Melting snow and the ensuing drainage becomes new ice the following day following evening low temperatures.
  • Uncleared sidewalks or narrowly cleared sidewalks (due to weeks of snow) resulted in students walking in the road to and from school.
  • Tall snowdrifts create dangerous blindspots in parking lots, entrances and exits to schools, and on numerous street corners, coupled with pedestrians walking in the roads is a bad combination.
  • Heavy accumulations of snow on roofs can cause damage or even a roof collapse.
  • Melting and falling Ice bridges and large icicles from roof can injure people.
  • A school evacuation (fire, bomb, etc) = relocation to another school ASAP (As Soon As Possible).
    • Using school buses as warming shelters until students are relocated is an improvised option, if you can initiate this fairly rapidly.
  • Budget cuts affected the number of available snow plow drivers or overtime permitting school parking lots to be cleared to support school operations resulting in some school closures.

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