Helena Fire Department warns of snow-covered vents and fire hydrants

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Posted at 4:43 PM, Jan 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-07 19:54:07-05

HELENA — When the snow comes down and temperatures drop, most Montanans know to clear the snow away from their driveways and walkways, but sometimes it’s easy to forget to clear out your vents. Doing so can sometimes mean the difference between life and death.

Clearing vents of snow and ice, particularly for fuel-burning appliances like gas, hot water heaters, furnaces, or wood stoves prevent carbon monoxide from building up in the home.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can be deadly in high concentrations.

Many people don’t know the difference between the varying vents attached to their houses, so Fire Marshal Lou Antonick says to simply clear them all.

“And make sure that you check them from time to time, not only after it snows a whole bunch, but make sure there's not build up and ice and all that stuff. And make sure you clear it away sufficiently. Don't just pull a little bit of snow away from there, pull it all away so that, you know, there's a good clearing around that whole entire vent, and make sure that it's fully operational,” says Antonick

Along with clearing your vents, it’s important to have functioning carbon monoxide detectors properly installed on every floor of your house. The fire department wants to remind folks to get their chimneys and fireplaces cleaned at least once or twice a year, along with any vents on your roof. This cleaning should be done by a professional.

Antonick also wants to remind folks to clear away snow from a lifesaving instrument that is in every neighborhood. Fire hydrants can often get forgotten about during the clearing of snow. But it’s vitally important to keep them clear of snow and easily accessible in case of an emergency even if they aren’t right in front of your home.

“It's there for you and your neighbors, you know, so while you're out shoveling your sidewalks clear a 3-foot space around the fire hydrant,” says Antonick.

Keeping your vents clear and your fire hydrant snow-free might just make all the difference next time a storm hits.