Snow and ice hazards and safety tips |

Snow and ice hazards and safety tips

Daily Staff Report
Vail CO, Colorado

AVON, Colorado ” With the recent heavy snowfall in Avon, the Town of Avon is asking property owners and managers to make arrangements to remove hazardous ice and snow accumulations that may endanger public safety.

Town code enforcement officers from Avon have already begun to inspect larger properties within town to notify the owner or manager of possible hazards. This effort is focusing on commercial and multi-unit residential properties where the likelihood is highest for personal injury or significant property damage.

Icicles tend to form on the eves of a roof due to the freeze-thaw cycle, creating a hazardous situation. Ice falling from a one story roof or greater can cause serious injury or damage to property. In addition, six inches of blue ice is enough to cause ice dams that may result in water damage to a building’s interior.

Town code requires that buildings must be maintained. Accumulation of ice and snow that might fall onto a sidewalk, street, alley or other public right-of-ways should be removed. Ice and snow hazards involving single-family properties remain the responsibility of the homeowner or tenant.

When deciding whether snow removal is needed, property owners should keep in mind the following: 1) older buildings should be shoveled when more than three feet of compacted snow has accumulated on the roof. Residences built after 1991 are more structurally able to handle heavy snow loads, but should still be watched as this seasons heavy snowfalls may begin to stress even new structures snow load limits; 2) large icicles can be extremely hazardous; 3) six inches of blue ice is enough to cause ice dams that may result in damage to multiple structural components. If you decide to remove snow and/or ice removal from your roof, use these tips compiled by the Eagle River Fire Protection District and Avon’s Building Department:

– Your safest bet is to rake the snow off of the roof from ground level, but caution should still be taken. It’s a good idea to have someone nearby and never stand directly below the area you are cleaning, as even a small section of a roof can drop several hundred pounds of snow.

– If necessary to get on the roof, be sure to have a spotter and never shovel alone. A fall three times your body height can be fatal. Use a rope and harness system, boot chains or traction soles and wear appropriate clothing for outdoor work. Take a bottle of water with you to prevent dehydration.

– Be careful to avoid piling snow into piles before removing from the roof. Snow piles on the roof can result in a heavy point load and have been know to cause structural failure. Snow removal must be done in an orderly fashion.

– Note that steep sloped roofs will frequently slide and may dislodge roof shingles. Leave steep pitched roofs and tall buildings to the experts. There are numerous licensed and insured snow removal professionals in the area.

– Ensure snow does not cover natural gas or electrical meters. Snow can block the vents on natural gas meters causing a potentially explosive buildup of natural gas that can leak back into the building. Shutoff valves on gas meters and electric meters must be readily accessible and protected from damage resulting from falling snow and ice.

– Remember, residents and private snowplow operators are prohibited from pushing or plowing snow into public roadways and/or covering fire hydrants.

– Commercial buildings, in particular, have a lot of equipment sitting on their roofs and should make sure that all equipment is accessible for maintenance and emergency situations.

The town also reminds residents that clearing snow from driveways, parking areas and sidewalks is the responsibility of the property owner. Also, private snowplow operators must have a contractor’s license and are prohibited from pushing or plowing snow into public roadways and fire hydrants.

Extra care should be taken when driving through Avon’s neighborhoods, watching for hidden driveway entrances. Residents are encouraged to contact the town to report icy roads, visibility problems at intersections, buried fire hydrants or other concerns by calling 970-748-4100 for the Town of Avon or 970-748-4741 for the Fire Department.

For questions regarding hazardous ice and snow accumulations on buildings, contact Willie Gray, the Avon Chief Building Official at 970-748-4011 or e-mail

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