Heavy snow in Placer County raises safety concerns for residents and businesses


Snow buildup puts roofs, propane tanks, gas lines, and ventilation systems at greater risk

Tahoe City, Calif. — With the potential for snow buildup on buildings and systems, public safety agencies in Placer County are advising residents and businesses in the Sierra Nevada to monitor buildings, propane tanks, and natural gas lines for signs of overloading due to heavy snow.

Vents, chimneys, and chimneys should be checked for blockages from snow buildup. These systems need unobstructed access to outside air to vent properly. Obstructions can cause carbon monoxide to build up in buildings, creating an unsafe indoor environment. Heavy snow may also cause stacks to shift, creating potential fall hazards.

Lake Tahoe snow

The oldest construction

Special attention should be given to buildings constructed before Placer County adopted Sierra snow load standards in the early 1960s. While construction standards Since that time, consider the average snow accumulation, exceptional snow accumulation may exceed the design limits resulting in potential hazards.

“When in doubt, have a qualified professional check it out.”

Official building chief Tim Wegner

Propane tanks and natural gas lines must also be properly cared for because deep ice clumps can damage pipes, valves, and tanks, leading to leaks. Technical tip: Propane is heavier than air and settles, while natural gas is lighter than air and rises.

Anyone who smells propane or natural gas inside or outside the building should call 911 immediately. They should also avoid smoking, operating motors or motors, operating cooking appliances, using heating and air conditioning systems, or using other sources of ignition.

The Building Services Division of the Community Development Resource Agency of Placer County says,

Possible signs of a heavy snowfall risk include:

  • Optical deformation or sagging of beams and other parts of the building structural support system;
  • Newly developed cracks, especially those appearing above windows or doors and where beams and other supporting structures have been located. Slight cracks that expand or contract can be indicators of building movement;
  • doors and windows that suddenly become more difficult to open or do not open at all, a sign that the building may be settling down;
  • Water leakage inside buildings.
  • recent bending of interior or exterior siding and finishes, which may be a symptom of settling; And
  • The sprinkler heads are pushed down below the ceiling levels.
    If there is any doubt about the integrity of the roof in heavy snow conditions, the building or area should be evacuated so that professional advice can be sought.

Safety tips

In general, residents and business owners are discouraged from attempting to clear roofs with a heavy snow load. Possible dangers include injuries from falling snow; roof damage caused by snow removal from some areas, while leaving heavy snow loads in others; unbalanced dumping of snow that can create unstable conditions and possible collapse of buildings; and electrical hazards from contact with overhead power lines and electrical service drops that are no longer visible or too close to the walking surface.

Residents and businesses interested in rooftop snow loads are encouraged to seek the advice of California Licensed Roofers/General Contractors or California Registered Engineers.

High rise homes

For homes at elevations over 5,000 feet, residents and businesses with questions about propane should contact either their propane suppliers or local fire agencies. For natural gas-related questions, contact suppliers or licensed California plumbing or contractors.

There are safety tips for proper care of propane tanks during severe weather in the county website. The site also contains tips for natural gas users to follow when smelling gas.

Placer County recommends that property owners and managers keep contact information—including home and cell phone numbers—current with gas suppliers, homeowner associations, and neighbors. In a gas emergency, it is important that emergency personnel be able to contact affected property owners.

Running generators during power outages and alternate heating can also cause problems if not used properly. When using portable generators, keep them outside and away from doors, windows, and ventilation openings to avoid building up toxic levels of carbon monoxide indoors.


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