Keeping Your Home Safe After This Winter’s Massive Snowfall


Southern New England has been hit with a particularly harsh winter. With the intense storms and massive snowfalls we have experienced here in Providence and throughout Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut, WPRI reports that February 2015 is one of the snowiest months on record.

Due to all of the snow, one of the major concerns among homeowners, landlords and property owners should be the risk of roof collapse. According to ABC News, there have already been dozens of reported roof collapses or structure issues as a result of the heavy pileup of snow.

Some of the other issues causing concern as a result of this winter’s massive snowfall include the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning from heaters and generators due to snow-covered vents, the risk of melted snow damaging homes through ice dams, as well as the risk of accumulated snow or ice causing slip and fall hazards.

Steps Homeowners and Landlords Can Take to Keep Their Homes Safe

Homeowners and landlords have a certain responsibility for seeing to the maintenance and upkeep of their properties so that tenants, visitors and guests will be safe. With all of the potential risks brought about by the recent snowstorms, it is vital for homeowners and landlords take steps to properly maintain their properties. Failing to do so could make a homeowner or landlord liable for injuries suffered by people hurt on the property.

The following are a few of the steps to take to keep homes safer after a massive snowstorm:

  • Clear snow from roofs to minimize the risk of a collapse.
  • Prohibit the use of generators inside a home or garage, even if placed near a window.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors on every floor of the home or building.
  • Clear accumulated snow away from home heating and dryer vents and keep them clear at all times.
  • Post warning notices to prevent anything from being burned in a stove or fireplace if there are venting issues.
  • Make sure routine maintenance is performed each year by a qualified technician on all heating systems, water heaters, in addition to gas, electric, oil or coal-burning appliances.
  • Remove snow or ice from walkways as soon as possible after the snow has stopped falling to minimize the risk of a slip-and-fall accident. Post hazard signs as needed.

Liability for Injuries Caused by a Snow or Ice Accidents in the Home

The majority of roofs in Northeastern states are designed to support about 30 pounds per square foot. Some can support as much as 100 pounds per square foot, however this may not be enough, depending on the snow’s water content. When snow is wet, it can weigh up to four times as much as dry snow. In some instances snow can weigh more than 20-plus pounds per square foot, which dramatically increases the risk of roof collapse, particularly when snow is piled several feet deep.

If a structure fails to hold up under a reasonable amount of accumulated snow, the builder could face potential liability, particularly if any corners were cut during construction, or if there were low quality or defective materials used, or if the structure was not built according to code. In the event it was the landlord who neglected to see to the timely removal of accumulated snow on the roof, he or she could be held liable for any injuries or loss caused by a roof collapse.

If a property owner failed to maintain the heating system, or allowed snow or ice to accumulate in front of the heating or dryer vents, tenants may become victims of carbon monoxide poisoning. Failure to clear snow or ice from walkways or driveways could result in serious injury from a slip-and-fall accident. Simply put, unless homeowners and landlords take appropriate action to keep a home safe, you, your family and visitors could be at risk.

If you’re injured in a snow-related accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, contact Rhode Island’s Trusted Personal Injury Attorneys at Marasco & Nesselbush to discuss your legal rights and options. We provide free case reviews to victims with potential premises liability claims. Call us at 401-443-2999 or fill out a contact form to set up a free legal consultation. We have four offices located in Providence, Wakefield, Warwick, and Woonsocket to easily serve you.