Winter is coming - Help us keep McGill spaces in good shape

McGill’s numerous heritage buildings have been the silent witnesses of the University’s growth over the past 200 years. The teams responsible for the upkeep of McGill’s property across both campuses are part of Facilities Management and Ancillary Services (FMAS). This work includes ground maintenance, cleaning, plumbing, electricity, carpentry, painting, and managing renovations, to name a few.

There are several factors that pose additional challenges when maintaining older facilities. Aging brick or stonework, quality of insulation, and decades old electrical and mechanical systems can make a building more vulnerable to damage caused by fire, fluctuating temperatures, and severe weather events.

As the winter season approaches, FMAS’ Operations teams deploy preventative measures to ensure McGill’s buildings are equipped for the harsh conditions to come: inspections of piping and roofs, pruning of trees and shrubs and clearing of gutters are some of the preparatory tasks that happen at this time of year. Insurers also expect that all reasonable steps are taken to maintain a building in good condition to prevent loss or damage.


There are a few simple steps that you can take to help maintain and prepare your own space for the upcoming winter season. Many of these reminders are applicable year-round but some are especially pertinent this time of year:

  • Close those windows! Remember to close windows and doors at the end of the day and before leaving for the weekend. Leaving a window open for an extended period during the winter increases the chances of freezing of pipes or damage to equipment. Extreme temperature fluctuations may also have a negative impact on artwork.
  • Prepare air-conditioning window units for winter or have them removed. If you have an air conditioning unit which is removed during the winter, please make sure that the window is properly re-installed and closed where the A/C unit used to sit. If you leave it in the window, you must ensure it is properly covered so as to both protect it from the cold and prevent cold air from entering the room.
  • An accumulation of dry leaves, branches, cardboard or wood near property can increase the risk of a fire; if you notice combustibles lingering near our buildings, contact the Facilities Call Centre.
  • Avoid storing valuables and equipment directly on the floor. This will help protect them if an area gets flooded. Keep items safely stored in appropriate cabinets or drawers when they are not in use. This also helps to prevent theft.
  • Look out for signs of possible water leaks. Early discovery can prevent a great deal of damage; if you notice something strange, such as the recent appearance of a water stain on ceiling tiles, report it to the Facilities Call Centre.
  • Beware of slippery surfaces. Snow, ice, and slush can make surfaces treacherously slippery and can cause injuries if someone falls. If you notice an area that should be de-iced or cleaned, reach out to the Facilities Call Centre.

For information on FMAS Services, visit the service catalogue.

If you notice damage due to a flood, fire or if there has been a theft, please report the issue to:

  1. Security Services:
    Downtown campus, dial 514-398-3000
    Macdonald campus, dial 514-398-7777
  2. Risk Advisory and Insurance Services: [at]
    Include a copy of the Security Incident Report

As a risk analyst at McGill since 2005, Melissa Ng Wan deals with assessing and preventing potential risk exposures to ensure the safety and security of the university community through insurance and other risk transfer methods.

Risk Advisory and Insurance Services (RAIS) promotes and advances the use of risk management practices in order to protect McGill University's human and physical resources against potential loss and minimize the adverse affects should a loss occur. From research involving animals, cells and rockets, to teaching medicine, music and law, to building operation, maintenance and renovation, what goes on at a university can be a risky business. Prevention plays an essential part in the management of these risks. RAIS is happy to bring you this series of important prevention reminders to help minimize the risk of loss and damages.

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