Abu DHabi // Public schools in the capital are beefing up safety measures ahead of expected strong winds and wet weather in the coming months.
The Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) has asked schools to restock their first-aid kits and prepare nursing staff to deal with potential accidents and illnesses.
The UAE usually experiences heavy rain between February and March. Last year, heavy downpours paralysed sections of the country for several days. Some schools across the Emirates were forced to close because of structural safety concerns and flooding.
Principals will be required to keep police, civil defence and municipality contacts on speed dial in case of emergencies. The schools have also been advised to remove or firmly fasten any movable parts or equipment on their premises that could become hazardous during strong winds and torrential rain.
The measures are part of a contingency plan developed by the council and Musanada, the Government's building services and facilities management body, to ready schools for dealing with unstable weather.
"Adec has taken necessary precautions … to deal with situations like slipping, electric shocks, low visibility, scattered pools of rainwater and the unexpected falling of items and equipment," said Hamad al Dhaheri, the division manager of facilities and infrastructure at Adec.
Khalid al Ansari, the section manager of infrastructure management at Adec, said there were no records of accidents last year, but that a plan was necessary to prepare for the worst. "We are creating new health and safety standards and advising schools about how to tackle these problems.
"During the rainy season, the management should make rounds at the school and check for leaks or water puddles," he said. "If they find any area that could be a potential threat, they must inform the authorities and get cleaners to clear it up immediately."
Awareness sessions have also been planned for teachers and parents to prevent the spread of disease. "Students should be appropriately dressed for the season so that they do not fall ill," Mr al Ansari said.
Amna al Nuaimi, the assistant principal of Ajnadeen Public School in Abu Dhabi, said the school had not faced any major problems during the rains, but had prepared for any possible situation. "When it rains, we do not allow children to play outside, and put up shades so that they do not get wet while boarding the buses."
School transport providers have been cautioned against reckless driving.