Roof ice warnings in changeable winter weather

There's some real dangers of falling ice from buildings, as well as slippery pavement conditions at this time of year.

File picture of snowy winter landscape, February 2019 / Credit: News Now Finland

With some changeable weather patters recently, warming and cooling again, officials are warning the public about the dangers of ice falling from roofs.

The capital city region in particular has had variable temperatures and sustained snowfall, warming to sleety rain at times and freezing again. So experts advise to keep a watchful eye on rooftops.

“Falling snow can weigh up to 100 kilos and when such a heap falls in the head area, it causes serious damage, and in some cases in the past it has even led to death” says Taisto Hakala, Chief of Communications at Helsinki Rescue Department.

“The current danger is due of recent heavy snowing and the temperature fluctuation on both sides of the frost and the plus degrees. Added to this there has been some rain too which have made snow wet and eased it to tumble out of the roof in large quantities, especially in plate roofs” Hakala explains

According to Finnish Meteorological Institute FMI, the capital region has received up to half a metre of snow cover which is relatively high compared to the average of 20cm at this time of year, making snow falling from roofs potentially more deadly.

Fireman Taisto Hakala says from a safety and maintenance perspective, the best way to deal with snowy roofs is to shovel the snow to the ground as soon as it arrives and while it’s still powdery.

However, that work requires professionals with the right safety equipment, and they’re in high demand at this time of year.

“Property owners are still responsible for public safety and are obligated to take care safety arrangements during the period. If the risk of falling snow is obvious, the pedestrians should be blocked from walking in that area, for instance” Hakala tells News Now Finland.

Rescue officials point out there also needs to be personal responsibility for pedestrians as they walk around due to the dangers of snow and ice.

“It is understandable that people get angry because they cannot go through their normal routes due due large amount of snow, but everyone should nevertheless be genuinely focused on traffic and roofs because there are now many winter-related risks at the same time, such as road slippage and poor visibility” says Hakala.

“For example, smaller children may not be able to see everything behind high snow piles, taking care of them is the responsibility of everyone”.