Winter Safety Tips

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The Inspections Department offers you the following winter safety tips for your home and business.

General Tips

  • Make sure that all accessible doors and windows are clear of snow and ice.  Window wells that service egress windows should be cleared out of all snow & ice in order that the cover can be easily lifted.

  • Large amounts of snow on roofs can cause problems and can be removed, but should be done with great care, as you do not want to dislodge or damage items on your roofing.

  • Remove icicles or falling snow so they do not fall and damage the equipment around your home or business.

  • Do not use Space or Unit Heaters inside of a home or business as a main heating source (Electric or other fuels). Never leave this type of heater unattended.

  • It is very important to clear snow from around your foundation before thawing takes place.  This effort will help to alleviate or lessen potential water problems when melting occurs.
  • Clear the snow from around any Fire Hydrants that may be located on your property so that access can be gained quickly when needed.  Remember that in an emergency every second counts in the case of a fire.

Tips for your electrical services

  • When using a snow rake to pull snow from roofs, please keep a proper clearance around service drop wiring from the utility pole.

  • Any snow and ice accumulation should be removed to ensure there is no water damage to meter and service panels during melting.

  • If a person uses a ladder to get on the roof, make sure the ladder is away from all electrical wires or electrical items.
  • When using any electrical cord or device outdoors, only use outdoor receptacles with GFCI protection and devices that are in good working condition and designed to be used outdoors.

Tips for your heating and gas services

  • Keep ice and snow shoveled away from gas meters, intakes, and exhaust vents around your home and businesses.  These vents need to remain clear for proper air circulation and equipment operation.  The accumulation of ice and snow around these locations can pose a health and safety hazard. Xcel Energy and your local service technicians are responding to numerous calls each day pertaining to equipment failure due to snow and ice covered meters and vents.
  • The chimneys and vents on your roofs need to be free and clear of ice and snow as well as to provide for proper operation.  If you are at all concerned with the operation of your heating and ventilating systems you should contact your local licensed HVAC contractor.

Tips for your plumbing services

  • Plumbing stacks on your home or business should be kept clear of ice and snow to ensure proper operation of your plumbing system.  Snow or ice covered plumbing stacks (small pipes protruding above your roof) can cause problems such as toilets and other drains not working properly, causing trapped sewer gas issues.

  • When removing snow from your roof, make sure that your plumbing stacks are not dislodged or broken.  If this or other problems occur, call your plumbing contractor for advice.

Tips for avoiding carbon monoxide poisoning

  • Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning can occur year-round, but tends to be more common during the winter. This is due to additional indoor fuel-burning sources such as space heaters, fireplaces, wood stoves, ovens, dryers, etc.

  • CO is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas, and has therefore been referred to as a "silent killer." CO poisoning claims over 200 lives each year and sends over 10,000 people to hospital emergency rooms. By following these steps and being aware of the potential dangers of CO, you can protect yourself and your family from deadly CO fumes.

  • Ensure you have installed a UL approved CO detector on each level of your home and also place one outside of bedrooms.

  • If the CO detector goes off, leave the home immediately. Don't stop to open windows or doors and allow fresh air inside. Once you have left the home, notify 911 and wait at a safe place until officials tell you the home is safe again.

  • Avoid warming up your vehicle and leaving it running in your garage. The vehicle exhaust can become dangerous, especially if the garage doors are closed. Instead, move the vehicle outside and close the garage door, to help eliminate the CO from entering your garage.

  • Chimney systems can become blocked, pushing toxic fumes indoors. Make sure to have your chimney inspected each year and ensure the area around the chimney is free from buildup. 

Please call the Building Inspection Offices with your general questions on these tips (701-746-2631). For a specific problem or issue within your home or business, always call a licensed contractor for assistance.