Spring Cleaning - Grounds & Operations

Spring is an ideal time to assess your property and operations. Inspect buildings and grounds for damages, and take a moment to review and update your organization’s policies and procedures.

Parking Lots

Look out for holes or cracks in parking lots. If left in disrepair, it will get worse over time and can result in serious bodily injury (trips, slips and falls) or property damage (vehicles damaged by potholes). Repaint speed bumps, curbs and other raised surfaces. Yellow safety paint will help make them as visible as possible.

Poorly marked or hard-to-see barriers can actually increase the likelihood of an accident. Typical methods of cordoning off parking lots, like draping chains or cables across entrances, can be hard to see, especially in low light or poor weather. If you are using chains and cables, use high visibility, flexible plastic tubing to cover the length of the chain or cable. Consider attaching hanging signs to barriers to increase visibility and warn trespassers that they enter at their own risk.

Roofs

Make sure schedule a thorough inspection of your roofs each year and make the necessary repairs as soon as possible. In particular, check the flashing. This is the material used over joints in the roof to prevent water seeping in and causing damage. Look for other signs of disrepair such as:

  • Cracked or split wood members
  • Noticeable sagging of any kind
  • Bends or ripples in supports
  • Cracks in walls or masonry
  • Sheared-off screws from steel frames
  • Sprinkler heads that have dropped down below ceiling tiles
  • Doors that pop open
  • Doors/windows that are hard to open
  • Bowed utility pipes or conduit attached at ceiling

In addition to self-assessments, have a professional roofing contractor provide a thorough condition assessment of the roof every 10 years. This will provide a detailed analysis of the expected remaining life of the roof and identify any repairs that may be necessary to extend the life of the roof. This is especially important for large roofing systems or roofs with a steep slope making it difficult to conduct a self-inspection.

If a roof inspection has never been done and the roofing system is more than 10 years old, it is highly recommended to obtain a detailed roof condition inspection. 

Clean Gutters and Down Spouts

A major cause of leaks is clogged gutters and spouts. Many roof claims are filed each year – claims that could have been prevented if debris and leaves had been cleared from gutters and spouts. Make a plan to periodically clean out the gutters and check down spouts.

Windows and Doors

Inspect the seal around windows and doors. Not only will this prevent damage from moisture and mold but will save on air conditioning and heating bills. Check the locks on all windows and doors; if any of these are faulty, they should be replaced immediately.

Grounds

  • Prune trees according to a seasonal maintenance plan. Consult with a certified arborist for assistance. For more information, see our Tree Maintenance Guidelines.
  • Inspect sidewalks, lawns, stairs and railings for damage.
  • If you have a playground, check the protective layers which can get displaced in winter. Make sure the surfaces around / under play equipment have a minimum of 12” of wood chips, mulch, sand or pea gravel.
  • Make sure parking lots and walkways are adequately lit.

Equipment & Utilities

  • Shut down boilers properly for the season.
  • Change the furnace filter and check 
the blower.
  • Service lawn and landscaping equipment.
  • Check air conditioning units and replace filters, if needed.
  • Check all plumbing and electrical systems and repair any damage.
  • Check carbon monoxide and fire detectors to ensure batteries are fresh.

Safety & Security

  • Inspect first aid kits; check expiration dates and replace items that have expired.
  • If you do not already have one, put together an emergency evacuation plan in the event of a hurricane or other natural disaster.
  • Does your location have a key control policy in place? Now is the time to take stock of who has access to your buildings. Please see our Key Control Policy.
  • Review your offertory controls. Do you have procedures in place for the safe handling of offertory collections, and are volunteers and staff following these procedures? Please see our article on cash management.
  • Make sure all relevant staff and volunteers have taken, or renewed, their Virtus Protecting God’s Children training and that background checks are on file.
  • Review emergency contact information and distribute to relevant parties.
  • Planning a carnival or fair? Please review our Carnival and Fair Guidelines.

Contracts

Once a contract or lease agreement is signed, it’s easy to store it in a filing cabinet and not give it a second thought, but think again! The terms of agreement that seemed reasonable three years ago may be leaving your parish wide open to liability today. Please take time each year to review the terms and conditions of contracts you have on file.

  • Do any of your contracts have automatic renewals? If so, consider amending them to have a definitive end date.
  • For each contract, make sure you have the necessary proof of insurance from the contractor in the form of Certificates of Insurance. Make sure all Certificates of Insurance are up-to-date with a current policy year.

If you have any questions about contracts or insurance, please contact Ryan Fitzgerald.