How to Clean Up Safely After a Snowstorm
When a snowstorm hits, you may still have to take care of some clean up around your home no matter how well you planned ahead after seeing your friends and neighbors post about the storm on Facebook. Follow these steps to get your property safe and back to normal for you and your family.
What to Look for INSIDE Your Home
- Windows: Check for cracked or broken windows. If you see something, while you wait for a repairman, cover it with plywood or a thick piece of cloth to help keep the heat in and the pests out.
- Water Pipes: Stop any possible flooding by shutting off the water supply until a plumber can come over to make repairs.
- Chimneys: Check your chimney for any structural damage – prevent household fires and smoke inhalation by calling in a professional to fix the damage before using your fireplace.
- Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors: Make sure the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working. If you experience a power outage and need to use your fireplace or burn fuel to stay warm, it’s especially important that you’re protected.
- Ceilings: A cracked or leaky ceiling could mean roof damage. If there are any structural issues, either find a place to stay outside your home or keep to a safe part of your house until the damage is fixed.
What to Look for OUTSIDE Your Home
- Power Lines: Stand at your front door and scan the area to see if there are any downed power lines nearby. If there are, stay indoors with your family and pets to stay safe from electric shocks and call your power company to inspect and fix the problem.
- Clearing Snow: If it’s safe to do so, start as soon as you can – fresh snow is lighter and easier to clear than packed snow. Be sure to dress in layers to prevent hypothermia, warm up slowly by marching in place, and then stretch to avoid pulling a muscle.
- Trees and Branches: Check your yard for fallen trees and broken branches. Even if you find none, inspect your trees closely to make sure you haven’t missed any cracked tree limbs that may eventually fall and cause damage or injury.
- Roofs: Check the roofs of your house, garage or shed. Generally, one square-foot of snow that is one-inch deep weighs about a pound. If your roof has up to 12 inches of snow on it, that equals thousands of pounds of stress. Hire a professional to safely remove the snow so you don’t experience damage or leaks. Even if you don’t have a lot of snow on your roof, it’s still important to remove the snow that’s there to prevent an ice dam from forming after it melts. An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and stops melting snow from draining off properly.
- Before You Drive: Before getting your car out of the snow, warm up the engine for at least ten minutes and scrape or brush off any snow or ice that has piled up. To clear snow away from the tires, turn the steering wheel from side to side or dig out with a shovel. Next, rock the vehicle, shifting from forward to reverse and back again. (Check your owner’s manual first — this technique can damage some transmissions.) Avoid spinning the wheels by keeping a light touch on the gas while easing forward and backward.
- After You Drive: After a few days, go to the car wash to remove any de-icing materials or salt that may be left on or under your car. When the air temperature rises above 35 degrees, salt can cause corrosion and rust. Also, consider changing your windshield wipers because ice from the snowstorm can warp the blades.
Pets: Salted driveways and streets can cause chemical burns on your dog or cat’s paws, especially after long periods of time, so make sure they have booties when they walk outside or be sure to wash their paws clean.
It can feel overwhelming after a snowstorm has passed through your neighborhood. But the sooner you start cleaning up around your home, the faster you and your family can go back to enjoying the winter wonderland.