After a snow shower, clear up and de-ice thoroughly your stairs, doors, balconies and windows, especially if these are used as emergency exits. It is essential to clear out the evacuation routes to the street. This will prove a most valuable measure of precaution if you ever must leave your house hurriedly. A window that is frozen shut, for instance, could prevent you from getting out of your home. The ministère de la Sécurité publique (public security department) provides advice on how to keep the exits clear [Fr].
If you use gas-powered apparatus or appliances (electric household appliances, a fireplace, etc.), make sure you always keep access to the storage tank free of snow and ice.
Always keep your temporary car shelter free of snow build-ups to keep it from collapsing under the weight of the snow. However, do not clear the roof of your shelter while standing inside of it: if a collapse occurred, you would suddenly become buried under both snow and structure.
If you do the snow removal on your roof yourself, it is recommended to use a special shovel for roofs fitted with a telescopic handle enabling you to remove the snow from the ground level.
Do consider that the removal of snow from a roof is an operation which is hazardous as much for the person who is up on the roof as for anyone who circulates around the house. Besides the risk of a fall, one needs also considering the proximity of any electrical wiring and installations.
Several reasons to call upon specialists:
Since one is not required to hold a licence from the RBQ to do roof snow removal work, it is important to make sure that the contractor or company has the necessary experience and equipment to do the job according to good practice.
At the onset of winter, the well-advised owners will enter into a contract for roof snow removal as they would do for the clearing up of their parking space.
During snow removal operations, it is important that every precaution is taken to avoid serious accidents. Employers and building owners and managers, as well as workers themselves, have the responsibility to ensure that the job procedures followed comply with the safety rules.
The Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST) [Fr] publishes on its website the measures of safety to be taken to remove snow from roofs. Available in French only.
Generally speaking, our roofs are built to withstand the snow loads of Québec winters. However, you must exert close vigilance when the accumulations of snow become exceptional or atypical.
Call upon an engineer specialized in structural work to verify if your roof undergoes mechanical stress due to snow loads. This is especially important if your building underwent major modifications.
Signs to watch for:
If such signs are numerous, you should evacuate the building and take the necessary actions to remove any snow load from the roof.