Turn Up the Heat

Turn Up the Heat

How to plan for outdoor cold to minimize safety concerns

With cold weather on the horizon, the likelihood of accidents caused by slick conditions will be increasing, creating yet another safety concern for schools to manage during the pandemic. To minimize risk – and the extra burden on staff– this winter, school facility managers need to think ahead and stay informed about the risks of seemingly minor problems, including cracks and holes in their parking lots.

Tackling these repairs reduces the risk of handling injured students who have fallen or been a part of a motor accident. Nurses, teachers and students are already dealing with enough stressors brought on by the pandemic, they shouldn’t have to worry about hazardous parking lots as well.

When preparing your campus lots for the winter, consider these tips to reduce motor accidents, increase the longevity of your lots and walkways, and keep students and faculty safe.

Don’t Wait to Fill Cracks
While paving projects are more widely completed during the spring and summer months, emergency fixes during the winter are a necessity. With winter comes cold weather that can increase the chance of damage to your lots and walkways. Filling cracks in a parking lot as soon as they start developing so they don’t expand will save you from a large-scale replacement project, which can go a long way during a time when schools are trying to conserve budgets to account for PPE and other pandemic-related expenses.

More importantly, assessing your parking lots health now will protect students and faculty from falls and damaged vehicles. Even though November and December are considered the off-season for many paving companies, most, including Dura-Seal, will perform crack-filling services in the winter when maintenance just can’t wait for warmer weather.

Temporarily Fix Potholes During Winter Pothole repairs should never be put offuntil spring. Using gravel or stone to fill in potholes can lead to safety hazards that further damage your parking lots.

Additionally, gravel and stone patches can expand, causing the pothole to grow and lead to more expensive repairs down the road. A temporary, yet effective, fix for potholes during the winter is cold patching when hot mixed asphalt is not available.Cold patching can keep a parking lot and school driveways healthy and smooth throughout the winter before potholes become a permanent problem that can be both costly and hazardous.

Mark Concrete Curbs and Potholes
Inclement weather like snow and sleet can mask concrete curbs and potholes, leaving parking to be a guessing game. Campuses should purchase flags to mark their concrete curbs so that snowplows don’t damage them and drivers can avoid accidents.

When it comes to potholes, if permanent repairs can’t be done until spring, mark them with traffic cones and schedule an appointment to have repairs professionally done once it’s warmer.

Move Snow Downhill
With sub-zero temperatures and snow comes the potential for ice. Keep snow piles on the lower side of your parking lot whenever possible so that when the snow melts, the water runs into the grass and doesn’t cause refreeze issues on the pavement, walkways, or driveways. This will protect your students and faculty from falls and reduce the likelihood of car accidents caused by frozen lots.

Prioritizing these items is important now more than ever. Staying ahead of seemingly minor problems and making sure to be informed on parking lot maintenance best practices will allow for more energy to be put into protecting students from pandemicrelated safety issues, rather than large-scale maintenance issues.

This article originally appeared in the March / April 2021 issue of Campus Security Today.

About the Author

Bob Lester is president and CEO of Columbus, Ohio-based Dura-Seal.

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