While we have been fortunate enough not to experience the great snowpocalypse of this winter, we as Michiganders know it’s coming. In addition to the beauty, slow traffic, and days off from school, a heavy blizzard brings a range of hazards to property and home. Some of which can cause expensive damage and endanger your family. Avalon recommends following these six steps to help your family and home stay safe.
LIGHTEN THE LOAD ON YOUR ROOF
Once the blizzard breaks, head outside and walk the perimeter of your home. Pay close attention to the roof line. Is the edge of your roof decked in icicles? Are your gutters frozen solid with melted snow? Your roof may not be properly vented and the melted snow is forming an ice dam. Ice dams are created when water freezes in
hard ridges that prevent further snow melt from draining off your roof. With no where to go, water will find its way into your home. Extreme blizzards can also add stress to the roof with the weight of snow. This is especially true as subsequent blizzards allow old snow to compact under fresh snow.
Don’t worry though. You can reduce stress on your roof by removing snow with a roof rake.
Professional Tip: If you see ice dams have already formed, contract a professional rather than trying to handle it yourself. A professional roofing expert will be able to determine why the ice dams have formed and recommend a practical solution to eliminate them.
CLEAR YOUR WALKWAYS
Property owners are often liable for healthcare costs or other damages if anyone – including neighbors, the mailman, or other solicitors – slip and fall on their property’s walkways. Make sure to buy a snow shovel and stock on ice melt, prior to the blizzard. To prevent slips and falls from happening, make sure to clear your walkways promptly after a blizzard.
As ice melt lowers the freezing point of water, applying it ahead of the blizzard can make the removal process easier. When it is time to clear the walkways, shovel away the bulk of the snow first. Then, spread a layer of ice melt. Now, wait for chemistry to kick in. While residual ice and packed snow begin to melt, remove it with a shovel, and apply a final layer of ice melt to prevent the pavement from re-freezing and creating black ice. Worried about traction? Sprinkling a thin layer of sand can help. Always store sand and salt indoors, as the moisture in sand can cause it to freeze.
Professional Tip: Commercial ice melt tends to be gentler on plants and landscaping than salt. Additionally it is often formulated to be pet-safe. However, if you are caught by surprise, or there is none to be found – rock salt works in a quick pinch. If using sand – coarse sand.
REMOVE SNOW AND ICE FROM FURNACE VENTS
Most ways of heating your home can produce deadly carbon monoxide gas. Carbon monoxide poisoning cases tend to spike in winter according to the American Council on Science and Health. Blizzards can block vents that carry carbon monoxide out of the home with heavy snow and ice. Gently remove snow from furnace vents, keeping the openings clear so that escaping gases can vent properly. Remove snow from around your gas, electric, and water meters as well.
CHECK YOUR TREES
If you have sagging tree limbs, overhanging branches on your roof, or dead limbs, it is best to contact a professional on removal measures. While preventable measures are best completed prior to a blizzard, there is the possibility a heavy blizzard, ice storm, or high winds can cause even healthy branches to become unstable. Blizzards can bend and break tree branches, causing damage to your home and to the trees themselves. You can carefully remove snow with a broom, long pole, or even your roof rake. Remember to work gently, as the cold may have made branches brittle, and be sure to stand out of the way of the falling snow. If your trees are coated in heavy ice, your best bet is to remove the bulk of the snow first. Then wait for the ice to melt. Attempting to chip away at the ice will damage the trees.
Professional Tip: If branches are heavily iced and leaning dangerously over your home, consult a professional tree service for advice.
CHECK ON YOUR NEIGHBORS
After you have checked your own home for concerns, consider contacting your neighbors to make sure they are okay. A power outage or a failed heating system can be particularly dangerous for seniors, young children, or people with disabilities. Find out if your neighbors need help clearing their walkways, and if they have enough supplies to last until the snow melts.
GET READY FOR THE BIG MELTDOWN
Test your sump pump by dumping five gallows of water around it to see weather it activates. Install plastic window well covers or have a professional come and inspect your basement windows. As snow melts, the water needs to go someone. Make sure they it does not seep into your basement window by having quality sealed windows installed. Additionally checking your gutter downspouts are clear, or shoveling them out, can aid water refreezing in or around them.
With these steps, you can be sure to keep your family and your neighbors safe until after the blizzard has stopped and the snow begins to melt. If you see any problems or concerns contact a home improvement professional.