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Keeping the roof over your head

Public safety officials are warning New Hampshire residents about the potential for roof collapses, after last week's heavy snow followed by rain over much of the state.

In Derry, the heavy snow load caused an aging roof to partially collapse at a trailer home on Rita Avenue, and the elderly resident had to be relocated.

Battalion Chief Jack Webb of the Derry Fire Department said officials are especially concerned about flat roofs, roofs over porches that have a shallow pitch and roofs of manufactured housing, including mobile and modular homes.

Webb noted porch roofs are of particular concern because as melting occurs, snow may slide off main roofs onto the porch roof, further increasing the snow loads.

State Fire Marshal J. William Degnan last week also warned about heavy snow loads sliding off roofs and damaging gas meters and components. That's what happened at Pinkerton Academy last week, leading the school to briefly evacuate three buildings.

Snow sliding off roofs also can damage outdoor oil tank valves and filters, he said.

Degnan urged New Hampshire residents to:

--  Clear roofs of excessive snow and ice build-up, using a roof rake and being careful not to damage gas or oil service to the building.

--  Keep all chimneys and vents clear to prevent carbon monoxide from backing up into the building. Some vents may exit through a wall and can be blocked by high snow buildup outside the building.

-- Keep all exits clear of snow, so occupants can escape quickly in a fire or other emergency. And clear windows to allow a secondary means of escape in case the primary means of escape is blocked by fire.


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