Punxsutawney Phil, that prognosticator of season change, may have been correct this year when he foretold of seven more weeks of winter. Very little snow fell this year in Rifle between October and January. Then, right after Phil’s prediction, the jet stream shifted feeding us storm after storm. And it doesn’t appear that we’re done yet! March tends to be the snowiest month in Colorado so keep that shovel and salt handy. Sara Flores, Code Enforcement Officer for the City of Rifle wants to pass on a friendly reminder about the importance of keeping your sidewalks safe. The Rifle Municipal Code requires that sidewalks be cleared within 24 hours after a snowfall. This includes walkways in front of vacant land as well as all residences and businesses and the snow cannot simply be pushed into the street, alley or sidewalk in a manner which impairs pedestrian or vehicle traffic. With these recent larger storms, the responsibility can often extend beyond mere shoveling.
“The heavy snow we have received lately has been responsible for breaking tree branches [and] weighing them down so they impede sidewalk use,” Officer Flores commented. “The Code requires that vegetation which hangs lower than 8’ above the sidewalk be pruned.” Since her job has her walking and driving all over town, she has first- hand experience with dangerous ice and is very concerned about keeping citizens safe. So here are Officer Flores’ tips for handling winter conditions:
Tips to Easier Shoveling
- The best shovels to use have a small blade and ergonomic handle with a gentle curve.
- Push the snow as you shovel; it's easier on your back than lifting the snow out of the way.
- Don't pick up too much at once. Use a small shovel, or fill only one-fourth or one-half of a large one.
- Lift with your legs bent, not your back. Keep your back straight. By bending and "sitting" into the movement, you'll keep your spine upright and less stressed. Your shoulders, torso and thighs can do the work for you.
- Spray the shovel blade with cooking oil if the snow is sticking to it.
- Clearing snow soon after it falls prevents it from being packed down and becoming ice, which is harder to remove.
Tips for Clearing Ice
- Warm weather during the day can make ice soft, so it's easier to chip or shovel away.
- Spread sand or gravel on icy patches to make your sidewalk safer for pedestrians. Spreading sand on a sidewalk before ice forms can also make future ice easier to remove.
- Pile snow in a place where it will not run across your sidewalk when it melts and aim your downspouts away from areas where people walk to keep your sidewalks clear during freeze-thaw cycles.
Do you have physical limitations which make it difficult or impossible to shovel? The High Country RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program) would love to help. They will match you with a volunteer who will show up at your home to shovel on snowy days. If you need shoveling assistance, please contact Mary Moon, High Country RSVP Volunteer Manager at 970-947-8462. And if you have questions about any aspect of Code Enforcement, call Officer Sara Flores at the non-emergency dispatch number 970-625-8095.
Sara Flores has been a member of the Rifle Police Department Code Enforcement Division since 2014. Prior to joining the City she was a Colorado State Parks and Wildlife Officer for 5 years and a Realtor in the Valley for 19 years. Officer Flores is a member of the Colorado Association of Code Enforcement Officers and has achieved Advanced Certification Status. She volunteers with Garfield County Search and Rescue and with Garfield County RSVP Helping Hands for Seniors Program. Officer Flores is a recipient of the Rifle Police Department’s Chief’s Award and Distinguished Service Award.
Find out more about our Community Service Officers on an upcoming video interview on RifleNOW.org.
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