Most Iowans have already shoveled their sidewalks and plowed their driveways, but they may have forgotten to dig a vital piece of emergency equipment out of the snow — the nearest fire hydrant. Jessica Lown, spokeswoman for the Iowa Department of Public Safety, says it won’t take long to do and the simple act could help to save your life and property.
“We’re just asking folks to take a couple more minutes this week, walk down to the fire hydrant and work with their neighbors,” Lown says. “Make sure there’s a good path around the fire hydrant and then from the fire hydrant to the street that’s been shoveled. That way, if there’s a fire at your home or at one of your neighbors’ homes, firefighters can have easy access to that hydrant.”
The state fire marshal says Iowans should clear a three-foot perimeter around fire hydrants, as well as carving a path to the road. In general, Lown says for every minute a home fire goes unsuppressed or undetected, it doubles in size. Firefighters need immediate access to the hydrant.
Lown says, “If they pull up to that hydrant and they have to waste two or three minutes or, heaven forbid, five minutes digging out that fire hydrant because there’s a huge snow bank on top of it, think about how much bigger that fire is building inside your home while firefighters are wasting time, digging out that fire hydrant.”
When digging out from a blizzard, Lown notes it’s easy to forget emergency responders not only need access to your front door, but to the equipment that will help save your home in the event of an emergency.