Risk Management

Risk Management Advisories


Historical claims analysis information suggests that Property claims tend to rise and fall in accordance to the season, with most claims related to freezing occurring in December and January, while arson and vandalism peak in July and August. Another risk factor also coincides with these peak loss times - the fact that these times of the year are also when many school buildings are closed for winter or summer holidays.

From this information, it is clear that two risk management strategies can play a significant roll in reducing property claims occurring during these peak periods:

  1. Follow a Temporary Shutdown Program for summer/winter holidays and long weekends;
  2. Implement a Cold Weather Alert Program.

Temporary Shut Down Program:

A Temporary Shutdown Program can help reduce vandalism and deter arson by ensuring that the building is secure from intrusion and that regular inspections of the premises are conducted to detect any attempted intrusions or to discourage would-be intruders.

The following recommendations are made to provide guidance to school boards in developing a policy on Temporary Shutdown procedures.

  • Implement a closure inspection program (see attached)
  • Implement an inspection list for school check-ups while closed - determine frequency of check-ups based on the length of time that the school is closed and based on weather conditions
  • General good housekeeping practices

Initial Inspection - Prior to Closure (Sample Checklist)

  • All windows properly closed sealed and locked
  • All small appliances unplugged (portable heaters, toaster ovens, kilns, etc.)
  • Are all tank valves properly turned off in Technical Classrooms (Propane, Butane)
  • All bathrooms checked to ensure no running water and/or clogs
  • Ensure all combustible materials are not stored in front of heating units or other ignition sources
  • Temperature is regulated to prevent freezing (If Cold Weather Alert issued)
  • Cold Weather Checklist (if applicable)

Check-Up Inspections

Recommended Frequency:

Long Weekend – 1time/weekend – unless cold weather alert (daily)

1 – 4 Weeks (i.e. Christmas/Summer break) – 2 times/week – unless cold weather alert (daily while alert is in effect)

  • Temperature is regulated
  • School is still secure (no vandalism/broken windows, etc.)
  • Bathrooms clear
  • Cold Weather Checklist (if applicable)

Additional Tips:


  • Ensure building shell is in good condition, and close any unnecessary openings.
  • Identify any concealed spaces, such as the space above a suspended ceiling or a crawl space below the floor that may contain vulnerable piping. Consider providing temporary interior openings to allow heat to reach those areas.
  • Check heating equipment to be certain it will be able to maintain building temperatures above 40o F (4o C) at the coldest points in the building.


  • For idle air conditioning systems, remove water from oil coolers and water jackets, and drain condensers of chilling units.
  • Make sure fuel supplies will be adequate, particularly if supplied on an “interruptible” contract. If the back-up fuel is oil, verify that the tank is full and the delivery system to the heating unit is fully operational.
  • Check pressure vessel vents, relief valves and safety valves to ensure that moving parts are protected from water accumulation or freezing of vapour.

Cold Weather Alert Program

A Cold Weather Alert Program can help prevent, and most importantly, mitigate, water damage losses due to freezing. Planning is the key to preventing a freeze-up from interrupting school operations and costing your board money. Developing policies and procedures to help you identify measures to take before and during cold weather can help mitigate the potential losses that may occur as a result.

A Cold Weather Alert Program should include:

  • Designate a “weather watcher” to monitor conditions and implement procedures once a regionally appropriate external temperature has been reached. 
  • Environment Canada provides guidelines that can be used to determine when Cold Weather Alert procedures should be implemented. For additional information regarding weather alerts, go to Environment Canada’s Weather website: http://weather.gc.ca/
South-central and Southwestern Ontario The temperature/wind chill is expected to reach -30°C for at least 2 hours.
Southeastern Ontario The temperature/wind chill is expected to reach -35°C for at least 2 hours.
Northern Ontario The temperature/wind chill is expected to reach -40°C for at least 2 hours.
Far Northern Ontario The temperature/wind chill is expected to reach -45°C for at least 2 hours.
  • Another option is to implement inspection procedures when Cold Weather Alert warnings are issued by the local health authority.
  • Daily documented inspections of schools during a cold weather watch.

Additional preparations:

  • Gather emergency supplies: extra tarpaulins for windbreaks, space heaters (to keep instruments from freezing), and antifreeze supplies for cooling systems. Take special care when thawing frozen piping and equipment; avoid open flames.
  • Prepare snow removal equipment.

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