Now that the storm has passed the activity of cleaning up from the blizzard is beginning around homes and businesses. The Anne Arundel County Fire Department offers the following recommendations for those enjoying activities outside or clearing snow:
- Wear proper clothing for weather conditions. Several layers of loose-fitting, warm clothing are better than one thick garment. Wear hats and mittens or gloves when exposed to the cold.
- Pace physical activity such as snow shoveling or pushing cars. Regardless of age or physical condition, to avoid over-exertion. Elderly persons should be cautious in attempting snow removal.
- Check on elderly family and neighbors.
- Be aware of and stay clear of any downed power lines.
- Never run gas operated equipment such has generators inside a structure. Even a garage with the door open may not be adequately ventilated.
- We are asking residents to “Adopt a Fire Hydrant.” As residents dig out from the storm, we are asking that they assist the County Fire department by clearing an area around any fire hydrants located on or adjacent to their property. This will allow the hydrants to be used in the event of an emergency.
Commercial and business property owners must ensure that the following are completed in accordance with the Anne Arundel County Fire Prevention Code:
- Ensuring that snow is cleared to provide appropriate exiting and Fire Department access is maintained. Snow should be removed from all exit doors to ensure that they open at least 90 degrees. These doors should include those along the back or side of the building that may not usually be used.
- A clear path of travel must also be provided to a parking lot or roadway.
- Roadways around the building including non-paved fire lanes must also be cleared to provide 20 feet of clear width to ensure that emergency vehicle access is maintained for all portions of the building and to provide access to fire hydrants.
- Clear a minimum of a 3-foot space must also be provided on all sides of fire hydrants.
To help make snow removal safer, the American Heart Association has compiled a list of practical tips.
- Give yourself a break. Take frequent rest breaks during shoveling so you don’t overstress your heart. Pay attention to how your body feels during those breaks.
- Don’t eat a heavy meal prior or soon after shoveling. Eating a large meal can put an extra load on your heart.
- Use a small shovel or consider a snow thrower. The act of lifting heavy snow can raise blood pressure acutely during the lift. It is safer to lift smaller amounts more times, than to lug a few huge shovelfuls of snow. When possible, simply push the snow.
- Learn the heart attack warning signs and listen to your body, but remember this: Even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack, have it checked out (tell a doctor about your symptoms). Minutes matter! Fast action can save lives — maybe your own. Don’t wait more than five minutes to call 9-1-1
- Don’t drink alcoholic beverages before or immediately after shoveling. Alcohol may increase a person’s sensation of warmth and may cause them to underestimate the extra strain their body is under in the cold.
- Consult a doctor. If you have a medical condition, don’t exercise on a regular basis or are middle aged or older, meet with your doctor prior to the first anticipated snowfall.
- Be aware of the dangers of hypothermia. Heart failure causes most deaths in hypothermia. To prevent hypothermia, dress in layers of warm clothing, which traps air between layers forming a protective insulation. Wear a hat because much of your body’s heat can be lost through your head.
If you are lucky enough to own a snow blower, use it safely. Heavy wet snow can jam even the best snow blower. But don’t be tempted to clear a jam with your hands. Doing so is almost certain to get you a trip to the emergency room before your driveway is cleared. Snow blowers also pose other safety risks from carbon monoxide poisoning and flying debris. Here’s how to keep out of harm’s way.
- Before the snow gets too deep, remove doormats, sleds, boards, wires, newspapers, and anything else from the area you’ll clear to avoid clogs and damage to the machine.
- Don’t let children operate a snow blower. And keep people and pets far away from the area you’re clearing.
- Turn off the engine on a gas snow blower or unplug the motor on an electric model before clearing a clog at the auger or discharge chute. And use a clearing tool or a broom handle to clear the clog—never your hands or feet. Remember that a stationary auger and impeller are often under enough belt tension to harm hands and feet, even with the engine or electric motor off.
- Protect yourself from carbon-monoxide poisoning by starting and running gas-powered snow blowers outside, never in a garage, shed, or other enclosed area–even if the door is open.
- Never wear loose pants, jackets, or scarves, which can get tangled in a snow blower’s moving parts and pull you in with them.
- Wear earplugs or other hearing protection, especially with gas-powered models, which are typically above the 85 decibels at which hearing damage can occur.
- Wait until a gas model’s engine is cool before refueling to avoid igniting the gasoline.
- For electric models, use an outdoor extension cord and an outlet with ground-fault circuit- interrupting protection (GFCI). Then be sure to keep the cord safely away from the spinning auger while working.
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