AUSTIN, Minn. (KTTC) – With the winter weather continuing to roar through our viewing area, the piles of snow are making things more difficult in ways that are easy to forget until it’s too late.
Snow and ice aren’t just hazards on the road, they can also be a big hazard to your home.
“One of the biggest ones is obviously the snow build up around hydrants,” said Hans Gilbert, Austin Fire Department Engineer.
Shoveling out all the snow from your walkways or driveways is a familiar chore for anyone living in Minnesota, but most forget other places that need to be cleared as well.
“A lot of people are using alternative methods to heat, such as space heaters and those a lot times get left unattended. Those are one of the biggest causes of fires this time of year, besides cooking fires,” added Gilbert.
According to Gilbert, when fire hydrants aren’t cleared, it makes a firefighter’s task more difficult.
“We’re already wearing pretty bulky, cumbersome clothing and you add a couple feet of snow in some instances, it can tire people out pretty quickly. So it’s just a difficult time of year.”
Gilbert says the proper space needed for fire hydrants is 3 feet around the hydrant, plus a path for them to walk up to the fire hydrant.
Snowed-in hydrants aren’t the only issue, covered gas meters and appliance vents can lead to problems including carbon monoxide poisoning.
“With the winds that we’re having, to just simply do it once, you’ll probably want to keep an eye on it, cause chances are if it’s snowed in like this the first time, it’s gonna happen again,” said Travis Curry, Minnesota Energy Resources Field Operations Technician.
We’ve already seen more than 50 inches of snow this winter in Rochester, meaning clearing as much snow away from your home as possible is important.
Curry says if meters and vents aren’t properly cleared, it could also cause issues with appliances in your home.
“If the snow pacts are covered up, you can create another issue inside your home, either most likely having a no gas issue, to where if your appliances come on, they’re not gonna open up and deliver the gas like they’re supposed to if they can’t breathe,” continued Curry.
With more snow expected to hit the area over the coming days, both parties say clearing off the snow is important to avoid potential dangers.