How to Keep Your Campus Slip-and-Spill-Free This Winter

by Renae Fogarty

Walking through a winter wonderland is all fun and games until a kid or parent slips and falls and gets hurt. Schools have a huge responsibility to keep campus streets and sidewalks paved and clear of slippery ice and snow, since so many people traverse the grounds daily. School administrators are challenged to stay a step ahead of winter weather, but they are sometimes no match for the perils of Mother Nature.

Read on for some helpful tips on how to keep your students, their parents and your staff members safe and guarded against the elements this wintery season.

Upfront Communication

Send children home with printed material and pamphlets for their parents or blast out email reminders regarding important safety information. Here are a few suggestions, but feel free to give them your own unique spin:

  • Remember, what might look like innocent white fluffy snowflakes could be hiding dangerous “Black Ice” underneath it. Don’t assume just because the pathway doesn’t look slick, that it isn’t.  
  • Have you ever noticed that slips happen where you least expect them? Like getting out of your car, for example or inside the front door where ice melts and puddles of water are present. Proper footwear is your friend so wear sturdy shoes with good treads.
  • When you’re on ice — thin or not — never walk with your hands inside your pockets. You won’t be able to brace yourself adequately in the event of a fall.
  • Always use the crosswalks and avoid walking in the street if possible because cars also slip on ice. If it’s a blizzard outside, wear your brightest clothing so you’ll really stand out and get noticed.

On-Campus Reminders

Keep sidewalks clear of ice and shovel accordingly. Dissolving agents such as rock salt work well on outdoor surfaces to keep them dry.

There are several immediate ways you can keep parents, staff and children on high alert during extreme winter conditions. In fact, the holiday season is a great time to put those safety signs and reminders on display throughout the school, since you’ll have more parents walking the halls now for school programs and holiday events.

Strategically placed signage that reminds people to “step carefully” or “watch out for ice on sidewalks” are welcome reminders.

Wayfinding signage pointing out key areas of the school are always important, but especially this time of year when getting where you need to go quickly is first on everybody’s minds.

Fun, Indoor Alternatives 

Lastly, get creative with alternatives to the playground when the kids are forced to pack inside a crowded gymnasium or auditorium due to increment weather. Showing “Finding Nemo” or “Toy Story” is bound to be a crowd pleaser, but incorporating ideas such as a treasure hunt, craft hour, and small-group storytelling are great ways to mix things up a little.  

Winter weather is here to stay, at least for a while, so try incorporating some of these ideas for preventing slips and spills on the streets and sidewalks around your school campus this season.