GRFD warns of dangers caused by big icicles

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — After a few close calls of fires and carbon monoxide leaks, Grand Rapids firefighters have a safety reminder for homeowners, especially those with large icicles and snowpack on their roofs.

“How you can protect yourself as a Michigander is making sure all those ports of entry and exit from your home and appliances are clear of snow,” Grand Rapids Fire Department Capt. Bill Smith said.

How to protect your home from ice dams

Large icicles and snow on homes and buildings can cause costly repairs or be deadly. Grand Rapids firefighters responded to a few close calls this week involving large icicles and heavy snow on roofs. When they come crashing down, they can cause gas leaks or fires.

“Today we’ve run at least three incidents where we’ve had the ice fall down and take out the power mass for electrical systems and have caused a couple of fires. But we were there quickly (and the fires were) quickly extinguished,” Smith said.

Last week, a Grand Rapids family narrowly escaped a carbon monoxide leak into their home.

“Snow did occlude on the intake and exhaust for the high-efficiency gas heater and luckily the family had the right amount of resources for their alarms. They were alerted to it, they did the right thing, they called 911. They got out of the home, waited for us to arrive, and we absolutely found a dangerous condition that could have imperiled them,” Smith said.

Smith said to remove icicles before a major problem happens, but be careful.

“It’s a very dangerous thing to try to get under there and start breaking ice away without having the proper equipment. I had a ladder and I’m competent and I’m very well-versed. I went up there, got some salt and it took a few hours to get it removed,” Smith said.

What to do during a power outage

Prevention is key.

“Trying to not allow icicles to form on the edges of your home, especially in the areas where you have those gas lines coming in or those ports of entry from your home that have everything to do with your gas fuel appliances,” Smith said.

He recommended taking a survey of your home.

“See where you have issues with those icicles, see if they are endangering anything that can cause problems for your home,” Smith said.

Lake Michigan shoreline coated in ice

A final reminder for homeowners dealing with snow and icicles is that while warmer temperatures causing water runoff could cause separate problems.

“Pay attention that you are making a way for that water to run off your roof. Luckily, we are going to have a warm-up period, but you could have a problem with ice damming on your roof,” Smith said.

He said to use proper safety equipment and rely on family, friends or other resources to help remove large icicles.

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