Winter safety tips: Clear hydrants and driveways

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    Pagosa Fire Protection District

    Winter brings both beauty and hazards in the San Juan Mountains.

    The following safety tips can make a difference.

    Hydrant snow removal

    While the snow is much needed, it can cause dangerous delays in getting water to a fire engine during any emergency. Please remember to clear your neighborhood hydrants so firefighters can have easy access if it is needed. 

    Clearing a 3-foot perimeter around a hydrant and a 2-foot-wide path from the street to the hydrant will allow adequate room for firefighters to work.

    Driveway access

    Winter snow can often leave driveways hidden and narrow. Emergency vehicles (structural fire engines, ambulances) are wider and longer than average-sized passenger vehicles. 

    To allow quick access during an emergency, driveways should be cleared of snow and snow berms at the street. 

    Long driveways should have an address sign at the street, not just on the structure, to provide responders quick identification. Reflective markers should be placed at the street/driveway intersection if the driveway is hard to see from the street.

    Ice safety

    Winter conditions vary in temperature and weather conditions. The variations cause ice to become weak and unstable. Staying off ice on lakes, streams and rivers is the safest way to avoid danger. 

    Each year, people and animals fall through the ice and require rescue. If you see someone (or an animal) fall through ice, do not attempt to enter the water or ice. Call 911 and continue to watch the individual’s location to report to emergency responders. 

    It is vital that onlookers do not attempt a rescue — a failed attempt will leave responders with more people to rescue, possibly slowing down the initial rescue mission.

    Winter travel

    Snow, ice, wind and limited sunlight can all lead to hazardous road conditions. If road conditions are unsafe, consider delaying travel if possible. 

    Always keep warm jackets, hats and gloves in your vehicle, as well as water and snacks. Before leaving, check to ensure you have enough fuel for your trip in case road conditions deteriorate and you have to stop for a while. 

    Most importantly, always remember to buckle your seat belt and use an appropriate-sized car seat or booster seat for any children in the vehicle.