Winter Weather Awareness Week: Hazards At Home

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(WVNS) — Winter Weather Awareness Week 2021 runs from Nov. 15-19 in West Virginia as declared by Gov. Jim Justice. Throughout the week, your local StormTracker 59 team, alongside our partners at the National Weather Service and the West Virginia Emergency Management Division, will be providing important information on how to prepare for winter and its impacts on the Mountain State.

Hazards at Home

During the winter months, dangerous conditions aren’t just found on the roads, but some of them can be found right on your doorstep too. Icicles, roof avalanches and frozen pipes are all wintertime dangers that can easily be overlooked. Keeping up with maintenance around the house is key to staying safe during the winter months.

Icicles

Icicles are pretty when they’re small and hanging on a branch twinkling in the daylight. But when they’re hanging off your roof, they can quickly mean damage to your gutters or a trip to the hospital for anyone unfortunate enough to walk under them when they fall. Preventative maintenance is as simple as knocking them down, but here are some other tips to make sure you do it safely:

  • Make sure everyone, including yourself, is clear from the area directly underneath the icicles
  • Use a long wooden or plastic pole to safely break the icicles from a distance while standing on solid ground
  • DO NOT put a ladder up against gutters with icicles on them
  • DO NOT climb onto the roof and attempt this from above. The risk of slipping and falling is too high, especially on a snow-covered roof.

Roof Avalanches

Roof avalanches usually occur after a snow storm has come to an end and the sun has come out from behind the clouds. Despite most of the sunlight being reflected by the snow on top, some heat ends up being trapped by the roof of your house. Since most roofs are darker in color, they are efficient heat collectors. As the snow melts, a slick layer of water and ice can form underneath the snow. Eventually, this can be enough for gravity to take over, sending snow cascading down off the roof. Other triggers can be a sudden gust of wind, or even a small animal running across your roof!

Why is this considered dangerous? Water, in general, weighs a lot more than people think it does. When a whole roof full of snow starts to move, it can easily take out a full-grown adult if they get caught underneath it when it falls. Preventative maintenance to avoid this is very similar to getting rid of icicles:

  • Make sure everyone, including yourself, is clear from the area directly underneath and in front of the roof.
  • You can use a long rake, broom or a tool designed specifically to remove snow from a roof to dislodge the snow, or at least remove it layer-by-layer.
  • DO NOT try to do this from the top of a ladder – when the snow comes down it will take you with it.
  • DO NOT climb onto the roof and attempt this from above. The risk of slipping and falling is too high especially on a snow-covered roof.

Frozen Pipes

Cold weather in a poorly insulated home won’t just cost you money on your heating bills, it could also mean big bucks for home repairs due to burst pipes. There are simple and easy ways to prevent your pipes from bursting, such as the ones below:

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