Checking your property after a major incident

After a major incident like earthquake, flood and fire, follow these 5 steps to make your school safe.

On this page:

  • Step 1: Schools must visually check buildings and grounds
  • Step 2: Property professional may organise urgent repairs
  • Step 3: Property professional may engage an engineer
  • Step 4: School organises non urgent repairs
  • Step 5: School may make an insurance claim

Step 1. Schools must visually check buildings and grounds

After an earthquake a school representative has to visually check the school buildings for any signs of damage before the school can open. If schools are concerned about buildings after this check, they must contact a property professional (see Step 2).

Use the Emergency Response Checklist to note areas with damage.

Schools may need to isolate unsafe buildings and grounds.

For grounds:

  • Cordon off with tape, cones or posts
  • Use signs with warnings prohibiting access.

For buildings:

  • Lock the doors and put up signs.
  • Nail boards across doors and windows.
  • Spray paint the building with warnings prohibiting entry.
  • Use barriers (eg tape), or security fences if the risk is severe.

Step 2. Property professional may organise urgent repairs

What is a property professional?

A property professional is one of the following: 

  • the school’s property manager
  • a project manager appointed by the school
  • an Emergency Response Coordinator

Contact a property professional

We can help arrange a property professional to look at school buildings.

If it’s outside work hours contact your Emergency Response Coordinator directly:

What will a property professional do?

A property professional can organise urgent repairs for things like:

  • live electrical, mains gas, sewerage or water issues
  • cracking around ceiling beams and/or foundations
  • building movement off piles
  • soil liquefaction
  • damaged stairs/railings.

The property professional will organise an engineering check if needed (see Step 3).

Step 3. Property professional may engage an engineer

There is a limited number of structural engineers, and after a major incident like an earthquake they will need to prioritise their workload to concentrate on buildings which have the highest risk.

We can assist with arranging an engineer to survey school buildings.

Buildings over two storeys

School buildings which are over two storeys and of heavy construction are checked by structural engineers after every significant earthquake as a precaution.

Other buildings

A structural engineer will do a thorough survey if requested by a property professional.

Step 4. School organises non urgent repairs

Contact a property advisor

If the damage is not causing an immediate hazard, email your property advisor with details of the damage including:

  • the building or part of the site affected
  • what the building is used for
  • the parts of the building affected
  • whether the building or area have been isolated
  • what has been done to make the building or area safer.

Manage your water supply

  • Post notices ‘Do not drink’, if supply may be contaminated.
  • Shut off all water fountains or tape them up.
  • Have bottled water available or boil any tap water for 2 minutes before drinking; make this accessible to students.
  • Provide chemical hand wash in toilets.
  • Water can also be made safe to drink by using purification tablets and, if no other option is available, by adding 3 drops of bleach to each litre of water.
  • In the longer term your local council or the Ministry of Health’s local health protection officer (HPO) or drinking water assessor (DWA) can confirm your water’s safety if you have any doubts.

Clean up broken fluorescent lights

  • Open all windows and leave the room for at least 15 minutes.
  • Turn off heating/air conditioning systems, heat pumps, dehumidifiers and ventilation systems.
  • Wear gloves.
  • Keep other people away during clean up.
  • Don’t use a vacuum cleaner or a broom. This could vaporise and spread mercury through the air and contaminate the vacuum cleaner or broom.
  • Wipe the area with a damp paper towel and put used paper towels and gloves in a plastic bag for disposal with other debris.
  • Dispose of unbroken lights by wrapping them in newspaper and taking them to retail stores which have collection boxes. Don’t recycle these lights.

Step 5. School may make an insurance claim

If you're going to make an insurance claim, you must contact us before you make any repairs.

Find out about the School Building Insurance Funding Programme and how to apply.

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