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John Andersen: Keep this advice in mind as our winter marches on

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I usually do not do public service announcements, but our unique winter and the fact area fire departments and ambulance services have been active in a variety of situations the last few weeks, I will oblige. So for your review, a few things you can do to help your area emergency services.

John Andersen


I know we have snow past our butts, If you have a few spare moments or a little energy left, would you please shovel out your address stick — or as many people still call it — your fire number. Many of you have your address on your mailbox, but unfortunately mailboxes have also been buried in a snow bank. Help us find you.

While I do not want anyone over exerting themselves, it would be helpful if your path to the front porch or garage was shoveled out to allow emergency services to get into to your house. Ambulance cots weigh more than they used to and are bulkier. They also do not turn corners like a Ferrari.

Do you have a fire hydrant nearby? If you and your neighbors could shovel it out and keep three feet open around it, your fire department will thank you. Searching for a fire hydrant means we are not putting water on your fire.

You know from media reports you need to keep your natural gas meter and furnace and dryer vents clear from snow. Most people understand this. Yet also remember if you have LP Gas as a fuel source you need to keep the regulator free of snow and ice also. If any vent or air intake is blocked the appliance connected to it may fail to work or not work as well.

This from WQOW News TV 18: “Detective Sergeant Mike Mayer with the Eau Claire County Sheriff’s Office told News 18 dairy farmer Jim Volbrecht was snow blowing the roof of his barn Friday, when he lost his footing and fell through a skylight. Authorities said Volbrecht died at the scene.”

Jim was well known by many of us in the fire service. We will miss him. Many people are concerned about their roofs right now. On Feb. 25, this article appeared in the Syracuse, N.Y., newspaper: “If you’re thinking about shoveling the snow off your roof, don’t. It’s dangerous and unnecessary, according to Syracuse University structural engineering professor Eric Lui.

“Lui said a person walking on a roof would be putting far more weight per square foot on the roof than any likely snow load. A 200-pound man standing on a roof, for instance, would be putting 200 pounds per square foot of weight on the roof. That’s 170 pounds more than any likely snow load on that same spot.”

In Wisconsin since 1980, the State 1 and 2 family dwelling code required that a roof withstand 40 pounds per square foot of snow weight. Remember this figure applies to houses and commercial buildings. Agricultural buildings are not required to meet the standards of those codes.

Please weigh the factors in shoveling off your own roof.(No pun intended) If you do not exercise on a regular basis or if you have a health condition the last place in the world you want to be is on a roof if you have a medical emergency. Please remember we can’t get to you quickly either.

Driving in bad weather. What makes people go out when every public media is saying stay home? On the first clear day after our last snowstorm the Fire District responded to four car accident/rollovers in 6 minutes. Just because the road looks clear does not mean it is 75 degrees and sunny. Roads are still slippery in places. Slow down and keep a good distance between you and the car in front of you. Ambulance rides are spendy.

Last but not least, Sunday begins daylight savings time. Please remember to set your clocks one hour ahead. Also it would be good if you changed the batteries in your smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector.

Hal Borland was an American author and naturalist. One of his famous sayings was: “No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.” Sounds good to me.

John R. Andersen of Lake Hallie is a former state employee who remains active in the fields of fire prevention, government and education.


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