The City of Elmhurst Fire Department urges residents to take safety precautions during winter storms and asks for help keeping snow and ice clear from fire hydrants, as well as exhaust vents for high efficiency furnaces and hot water heaters.
Clearing the snow around a fire hydrant is an easy way for residents interested in lending a hand to improve neighborhood safety in our community.
Winter snow can often hide Elmhurst’s 2,212 fire hydrants under mountains of snow making them impossible to find quickly. In the event of a fire, firefighters have to locate and shovel out fire hydrants before hooking up to them.
The Elmhurst Fire Department is asking that you help us by keeping the fire hydrant closest to your residence or business clear of snow.
It is recommended to clear a 360 degree circle around the hydrant, about a foot to a foot and a half. During emergencies every second counts; when fire hydrants are clear of snow and ice it saves valuable time.
The Fire Department also asks residents to clear home furnace and exhaust vents of snow that may have accumulated from drifting and blowing.
The Fire Department receives a high number of emergency calls regarding elevated levels of carbon monoxide (CO) during winter storms. Many times these calls are the result of some easily resolved issues.
A common problem that causes CO levels to become elevated is a result of venting problems related to furnaces and/or hot water heaters. This becomes an increased concern due to the snow accumulation preventing the furnace to vent properly. Please check your outside vents and clear them from snow and ice.
Additionally, when snow falls very quickly, or your furnace does not run for an extended period of time, it can cause a build-up of snow on your chimney. Most furnaces have safety devices in place so that if the chimney is blocked off, it will not allow the furnace to turn on.
Regardless, when we receive this much snow in a short time or over several days with extreme cold, it is a wise idea to just look up at your chimney to make sure it is free from snow.
Please use caution when clearing blocked hydrants, exhaust vents, and chimneys. Do not do anything that can put you at risk of injury to clean that snow off. This would be creating a secondary hazard to address the initial hazard.
Other Safety Tips for Winter Weather:
Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack — a major cause of death in the winter.
Always use generators outside, away from doors, windows, and vents. Never use generators inside buildings or partially enclosed areas, even with ventilation.
Keep all the exits in your home or business free of snow and ice. Be sure to shovel a path to any door that may be used less frequently during the winter months, as this will provide a clear exit from the building should the normal exit path be blocked. It will also provide another door that may be used by an ambulance crew in the event of a medical aid.
Be mindful of melting snow and the potential hazards it can cause. If possible, help clear storm grates so rain and melted snow can drain properly. The melting can create heavier, packed snow on roofs and other surfaces. Flat roofs are particularly vulnerable and should be cleared of as much snow as possible.
Limit your time outdoors. Watch for signs of hypothermia and frostbite among elderly adults, babies, and others at risk. Seek immediate medical attention if you suspect someone has hypothermia or frostbite.
When outdoors, wear warm clothing, such as hats, gloves and jackets. Avoid staying outside unprotected for long periods. At the first signs of skin redness or pain, get out of the cold and protect any exposed skin. Watch for skin that has turned white or grayish, and feels firm, waxy or numb. Seek immediate medical attention if you have any of these symptoms.
Source: City of Elmhurst press release