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Insight from WFPD: Winter snows bring unique threats

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The Christmas blizzard brought a heavy blanketing of snow to the area. That snow also brought several threats which we all must be aware of. Take some time and review the following areas.

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Snow accumulations on a roof can cause structural collapse. Flatter roofs are more susceptible than roofs with a sharp pitch. In our area, roofs are designed to hold a few inches of snow. Few roofs are designed to carry multiple feet of snow. Heavy snow accumulations should be removed. Pay particular attention to sheltered areas and roof valleys where the snow may not blow clear. Remember, when going onto the roof snow and ice will make the roof slippery. Brace your ladder well to avoid it, or you, falling. Use a roof rake where possible to avoid having to go onto the roof. Pace yourself and don't overexert.

Snow may also cover plumbing and furnace vents. Make sure you keep the vents clear of snow to prevent sewer gas or carbon monoxide from building up in your home. The vents may not always be on your roof. The newer high efficiency furnaces and water heaters often vent out of the side of the building. Check to make sure these areas are clear also. Gas meters must be kept clear of snow and ice. There is a small vent located on the meter. If the meter vent becomes plugged, a dangerous build-up of gas can occur within your home or business.

Clear the areas around doors and egress windows of your home. These fixtures are installed to provide alternative methods to escape a fire or other emergency which may occur within your home. Check the operation of the windows and doors to make sure they are not frozen shut. If you have a fire hydrant near your home consider cleaning out around that. The extra time the fire department must spend finding and digging out a fire hydrant may make the difference in saving a home or business.

Snow piled on boulevards obstructs the view of drivers. Use care when backing from your drive or entering an intersection. Slow down and move into the intersection until you can clearly see what may be approaching on the side street. Take care while passing pedestrians. Sidewalks that are not cleared force pedestrians into the roadway. The slippery surface may cause the pedestrian to suddenly fall across the path of your vehicle. Children also enjoy playing on the piles of snow along the roadway.

West Fargo Ordinance allows vehicles left upon an Emergency Snow Route or stranded on the roadway to be impounded. To avoid an expensive impound fee follow the no travel advisories. The Emergency Snow Routes are posted on the City of West Fargo Web site. To assist the street crews assigned to snow removal and allow for efficient snow removal operations move your vehicles off the roadway and into your driveway. It is also against West Fargo Ordinance to deposit snow from private property onto the roadway.

Think safety. Check the forecast. Tell someone where you are going. Delay the trip if it is not necessary. Slow down. Stay with your vehicle if stranded. Be prepared to spend time in the cold. Carry a cell phone.

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