Keep fire hydrants, emergency exits clear of snow

After it snows, the first thoughts usually are on clearing walkways, driveways and parking areas.

Better add fire hydrants and emergency access points to that list, Michigan Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer urged this week.

When called on, rescue workers and firefighters can’t waste critical minutes having to hunt for a buried hydrant or shovel their way into a home.

“Fire hydrants can quickly disappear, especially with the continued accumulation of snow statewide and as snow banks grow taller along Michigan roadways during snow clearing efforts,” Sehlmeyer said. “Precious time is lost when firefighters have to first locate and then dig out a fire hydrant to establish a water supply. This delay can have catastrophic results due to not getting enough water quickly enough to contain and extinguish a fire.”

This time of the year, it’s also important to remind businesses and public assembly buildings — such as churches — to keep all emergency exits clear of snow and ice, so people can make a quick escape if a fire or other dangerous situation arises.

Another winter life safety concern as snow accumulates is to prevent the build-up of carbon monoxide inside a building due to a snow-blocked vent on newer, energy-efficient heating equipment. This can occur when the PVC vent pipe gets covered with snow, so make these also regularly are checked and cleared, Sehlmeyer said.

For more information, go to the Bureau of Fire Services website at www.michigan.gov/bfs.

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