The following is a guest blog post from the Mark Bosma, Public Information Officer at the Vermont Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

Rain and mixed precipitation forecast for parts of Vermont on Friday are expected to add weight to snow pack.  That extra weight could add extra pressure to house and barn roofs, and in some cases cause a roof collapse.

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Department of Public Safety, and Department of Health are urging farm and home owners to diligently monitor their roofs and clear off snow if necessary and if it can be done so safely.  If there is a concern for personal safety while clearing a roof, a professional contractor should be called in to inspect the roof, or to clear the roof of snow.

Guidance for what constitutes a safe load of snow on your roof is based on a number of factors and is not the same for every dwelling or structure.  It depends on the age of the roof, the amount of snow on the roof, and the weight of that snow.

Strange noises, cracking, or visible movement of rafters should be signs that your roof is headed for a collapse.  However, those signs won’t necessarily present themselves before a collapse.

Follow these steps provided by Vermont Fire Safety and the Agency of Agriculture when dealing with roofs.

  • All of the mentioned actions should only be performed by able-bodied adults, as the snow is heavy, and roofs and other surfaces may be slippery.  Protective headgear and eye protection is recommended.
  • Try to plan an escape route before you begin and keep safety the first priority.
  • If roof snow can be removed with the use of a snow rake (available at most hardware stores), do so. Use caution, as metal snow rakes conduct electricity if they come into contact with a power line.  Also be careful not to let large amounts of snow fall on you.
  • Try to avoid working from ladders, as ladder rungs tend to ice up.  Snow and ice collect on boot soles, and metal ladders.

On Barns:

  • When clearing snow from a roof, work to ensure an even unloading from both sides at a time.  Always work in pairs and use a safety line when clearing steep pitched roofs.
  • The center of the rafters and the center of the building are the weak points. It is advised to keep some 4×4 or 6×6 poles on hand to place under every fourth rafter, or along the center of the roof line. This will provide additional strength to the roof.

Other important advice for winter months:

  • When you go to work, check to see if the emergency exits are clear.  Leave the building at the first sign of danger.
  • Make sure your home is protected with working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, Locate alarms close to where you sleep.
  • Check heating system vents to make sure they are not blocked by snow.  As snow falls off roofs it can cover the direct vents that are located lower down on walls.  A blocked vent can lead to Carbon Monoxide backing up into your home.
  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from any heat source. Make sure your stove or fireplace ashes stored in a fire resistant container with a cover and keep the container outdoors and away from the building.

For weather and other updates and warnings:

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