2017-02-16 / Front Page

Officials stress winter safety precautions

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By LIZ GOTTHELF
Staff Writer

BIDDEFORD  – Here in Maine, we are in the midst of another winter, and officials have some suggestions to help assure we keep safe during the snow season.

Biddeford Code Enforcement Officer and Emergency Management Director Roby Fecteau sent out a press release Tuesday urging home owners to remove excess amounts of snow from their roofs.

“Failure to remove snow could result in structural failures,” he said.

Fecteau said if homeowners are planning to remove snow themselves, the safest way is to use an extendable roof rake. He said when using ladders proper precautions should be taken, such as tying off ladders to a fixed objet as surfaces may be ice covered and slippery. 

“It is never recommended to remove snow by standing on the roof itself,” said Fecteau.

York County Emergency Management Director Art Cleaves said in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon with the wet, heavier snow that was expected that night and into this morning, cleaning roofs was especially important.

Saco Emergency Management Director Steven Boucouvalas also urges people to make sure steps and walkways are shoveled out so there are safe exit ways from homes. 

Boucouvalas said people need to make sure dryer vents are not covered with snow, as blocked vents could run a risk of fire, and make sure furnace vents are clear to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

“Home safety is paramount,” said Boucouvalas.

Cleaves and Boucouvalas also urge people to check up on elderly or disabled neighbors and to call relatives and friends who might need assistance.

Boucouvalas said to be vigilant when parking vehicles, as heavy snow banks have narrowed streets. If possible, people in neighborhoods should try to all park on one side of the street to assure emergency vehicles can pass if needed.

Cleaves said to make sure to have at least two or three days worth of food before a storm hits and don’t drive during a storm if you don’t have to.

Boucouvalas said to exercise caution driving after a storm, as high snow banks at intersections can be difficult to see around. It’s important to be patient, he said.

“It’s not easy going for anyone right now,” said Boucouvalas. 

MaineWater, which serves Saco, Biddeford, Old Orchard Beach and part of Scarborough, said the company is spending many hours clearing fire hydrants of snow, and is asking community members for assistance.

“One of Maine Water’s most important priorities is to keep hydrants free and clear. While our customers are removing snow from their walkways, we ask that they take a few minutes to also remove snow from around a fire hydrant close to them,” said Judy Wallingford, president of Maine Water in a written statement. When cleared, “in the event of a fire, the hydrants will be more visible to firefighters and give them easy access to connect their hoses.  We appreciate the help of any safety-minded citizen who takes the initiative, beats us to the punch and, shovel in hand, gets the job done before we can.”

— Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 325 or egotthelf@journaltribune.com.

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