It’s unusual to start a holiday shutdown briefing by expressing a strong desire to see the back of an entire year – but 2020 hasn’t been anyone’s idea of a good year. No one has a crystal ball to predict the challenges we will face during the summer months, so before you close your campuses, we would like to help you prepare with our holiday shutdown checklists.
Preparation is the best (and possibly only) way to enjoy a well-earned break, without worrying about what might not have been done before you left.
Our checklists are designed to help you tick off the major risks you are likely to confront during the holiday period– everything from electricity disruption and all that entails, to severe (and unforeseeable) weather events as well as building and campus maintenance.
Our ‘master’ checklist, the ‘Holiday Shutdown Checklist’ runs through the basics – from setting up an out-of-office notice on your email and locking up properly to ensuring that staff are aware of your code of conduct for Christmas celebrations, including COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines.
Once you have secured the campus, there are some specific risks which also need to be addressed:
Climate change in general, and the La Niña weather event in particular, means more frequent and intense storm. Wild weather events are a reality, so preparation this year should be no different from preparation last year – it needs to be thorough and well thought through. This means carefully assessing your geographical location, and the likelihood of a severe weather event occurring where you are.
However, it’s not safe to assume that your geographical location will protect you because it has in the past. In the past year, we have seen intense weather events and losses at locations where these events have never occurred in the past.
Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology has confirmed that we are now in a La Niña weather pattern that is likely to continue at least until January 2021. This means that Australia’s northern waters are warm with increased convection – leading to wet conditions for northern and eastern Australian (historically the south-east will miss out) and an increased chance of flooding and cyclones this summer.
The upside is that fire risk is at least looking better than last year – except on the west coast and in the centre of Australia where bushfire remains a significant risk.
As we have seen flooding becoming more common, one significant risks is storm water not running into the pits, or the pits overflowing and allowing water to run down footpaths and roads into buildings, causing damage.
Our ‘Preparing for and Managing the Impacts of Severe Weather Events’ checklist advises how to manage storm water overflow, as well as other risks, and runs through who should be responsible for making sure your campus is prepared, when to begin preparations and importantly, how to go about preparing.
From clearing gutters, trimming trees and removing excess debris to nominating who will be responsible for monitoring and communicating severe weather warnings, there are simple steps to run through which will minimise the risk to your campus should wild weather hit. There is also a list of actions to follow if an event occurs, including how to assess damage and make a claim.
Dorothea Mackellar might love a sunburnt country, but the resulting drought and fire can cause untold human and financial cost. Our ‘Rural or Remote Facility Bushfire Risk Management’ checklist has been created with the input of members with specialist knowledge and the overarching view that prior preparation and planning can mitigate the risk of disaster. It takes you through the steps to follow – from preliminary planning to evacuation, pre-season preparation and how to monitor an approaching fire, right through to post-fire recovery.
Because campus buildings house the activities at the core of learning, research and administration, ensuring their safety by quantifying and mitigating risk is essential. Last year
we saw more burst pipes and pipe failures than ever before – and dealt with 28 claims at a cost of over $2 million. Burst pipes can lead to both floor and ceiling damage, structural damage and/or water getting stuck in walls which can allow mould to develop, introducing the potential for health problems. Preparation and early action is important to avoid significant damage and cost.
Our ‘Building Risk Assessment and Resilience’ checklist helps you identify which buildings are most at risk from natural perils including bushfire, flooding and windstorms and outlines how to perform a rapid COPE-based risk assessment. COPE examines four key elements of a building – its construction, occupancy, protection and exposure – and helps you to assess the risk associated with each element.
We hope that these checklists will give you a good place to start and provide a helpful resource as you head into the Christmas and New Year break. 2020 is almost done, we are all looking forward to a better and more normal 2020.