We were sent a couple of photos that showed snow piles either shoveled or plowed off our local streets. And while it’s great to see people banding together to dig ourselves out of the 5 to 7 inches (and more in some places) that fell Sunday into Monday, we later learned the reason we were sent the photos was to show that, under that pile, was a fire hydrant.

Obviously, that’s not a good idea.

A fire hydrant covered with snow is going to hinder the ability of firefighters to, well, fight any fire that breaks out near it. And while staying safe on the road — and avoiding travel if possible — until all the roads are cleared is important, so too should be the safety of your home. If a fire does break out in your neighborhood, giving firefighters another step in saving your home, and maybe your life, isn’t what anybody wants.

According to Harrisonburg Fire Chief Matt Tobia, the key is always about prevention.

“We want our community members to take an active role in ensuring their own safety,” he said.

And if you have a fire hydrant on or near your property, lending the department a helping hand by clearing it is, by definition, that active role. Tobia says a good rule of thumb is clearing 3 feet in all directions. Though his department is prepared for the possibility of having to clear the hydrants themselves, every little bit helps.

So, be mindful as you dig yourselves out. Keep those hydrants clear and clear them if they’re covered.

Not only will it put a smile on a firefighter’s face as they drive by, it’s going to help keep you safe in a worst-case scenario.

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