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Sunday, December 21, 2014

University Water Damage Preparedness and Education - part 1

By the RestorationSOS Educational Staff

Oftentimes, hazards can be minimized or prevented altogether by having an organized and comprehensive emergency preparedness program that allows the university administration to determine and prevent risks and respond to emergencies effectively.

In dealing with potential water damage, the following actions are recommended as part of the university's preparedness program:

Identify Risks

List the hazards that surround the university in terms of environmental factors such as geography and local climate, which may include flash flooding, tornadoes and hurricanes. Also, consider other man-made situations that could jeopardize the campus such as water supply failure or sprinkler malfunction.

Some important questions to ask when inspecting university buildings/facilities and sites:

  • Is the building situated on a slope?
  • Does the building have a history of water leaks and other structural issues?
  • Does the building have a flat roof and is there water buildup on the roof?
  • Are the drains and gutters in working condition and are they regularly cleaned?
  • Are the windows of the facility well sealed?
  • Are the water pipes of the building in good condition?
  • Does the building have water leak alarms and are they working?

Many universities have valuable collections stored in their libraries, in which case institutions must identify other vulnerabilities they may have concerning their collections, such as the lack of insurance coverage and lack of an accurate and complete inventory of items. In the event of a water emergency, does the staff know which collections to salvage first?

Minimize Risks

Based on identified risks, the disaster planning team should create a program with specific goals for reducing as many hazards as possible. The program should identify the resources needed and include a schedule of activities to make sure goals are met in a timely manner.

One of the best ways to minimize water damage risks is to monitor the condition of buildings as well as university collections regularly. This will allow early detection of building problems so they can be fixed or improved, thus, preventing the situations that lead to water damage such as burst pipes, clogged drains, and equipment failure.

Fire suppression is another very common cause of water damage in any type of building. For university buildings that house valuable collections, it is critical to have a fire-protection system that is designed and installed by a professional who is experienced in servicing university libraries, museums, or other similar institutions. They will be able to recommend a system that can effectively suppress fire using much less water.

Recommended Reading
Consequences of Water Damage in Universities
University Water Damage Preparedness and Education - part 2
University Water Damage Recovery

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