American novelist Belva Plain wrote “Danger hides in beauty and beauty in danger.” We’re not sure of the exact context for this quote, but it is true that many beautiful things in nature are also dangerous, and so the need for caution may be sometimes be overlooked. Certainly a bright sunny day is beautiful but if you stay in the sun’s rays too long, you’ll be burned.
The beauty after a fresh snowfall can be breathtaking, but it is prudent to consider the dangers that come with large amounts of snow and ice.
Roofs are designed by architects and engineers to withstand what is called a “snow load” which is a number of pounds per square feet. That number will likely be based on the building code for the where the structure is located. Obviously, building codes in Florida are more concerned with wind speed (hurricanes) than they are for snow loads. But if you own a building in an area where there is snow, you would be wise to not take chances and leave accumulated snow on your roof. Flat roofs especially are susceptible to structural failure because they do not disperse the weight as well as pitched roofs. The safest course of action when you have large amounts of snow or ice on any roof is to have it removed by professionals.
Icicles certainly are beautiful, but there is very real danger associated with them. If there is even a remote chance there may be people or property under ice hanging from the edge of a roof it should be removed. It’s important to also understand that removing icicles does not mean to just “knock them down.” Sometimes removing icicles or large pieces of ice can cause damage to the roof or to the remover! It should be done by professionals only.
It’s likely there are regulations and/or ordinances in most areas where there is winter weather about removing snow. Property owners should also be aware that there are statutes in most states regarding the removal of hazardous ice and snow and that the civil liability for failure to do so can be severe. Failure to understand and act accordingly with regard to premise liability may result in large judgments.
Snow and Icicle Dangers
Jeremy Swenson is a snow and ice removal industry authority and expert witness. He has provided consultative services to property owners for several years and has also been called on for expert witness testimony many times in various jurisdictions. Call Jeremy Swenson at 816-564-9131