Old Man Winter often leaves behind a trail of debris after his yearly visit. If your community has been ravaged by ice storms and blizzards this winter, you’re probably left with a mess of fallen branches, damaged property and other debris. How can you help get things back to normal in time for spring? Read on to discover four ways you can help your community recover from winter storm damage.

Remove Branches and Debris

Branches, shingles and other debris can cause damage to cars and injure pedestrians, so getting all those hazards off roads and sidewalks should be the first step in your winter storm cleanup effort. Start with large pieces and finish by using a strong magnet to collect small pieces of metal like nails and fasteners that can puncture tires. Consider pooling money with your neighbors for a dumpster rental to dispose of all the collected debris.

Report Road Sign Damage

Storm debris isn’t the only road hazard left by winter storms. Damage to road signs can contribute to accidents or cause motorists to become lost. Emergency personnel can even get held up if a sign is missing or unreadable. Walk around your neighborhood after the storm has passed and take note of any damaged road signs. Call your city government or department of transportation so signs can be repaired or replaced as soon as possible.

Clean Parks

A park is a great place for a family outing, but not when it’s covered in sharp, dangerous pieces of debris. Keep the kids in your community safe as the weather warms up by thoroughly cleaning up parks and playgrounds. Ice and snow can also cause play equipment to rust or break, so inspect swing sets, jungle gyms and other toys to make sure they’re safe for little ones.

Look for Damaged Utility Wires

Downed powerlines, telephone wires and internet cables can create outages and disruptions in service, but they can also be deadly. Live wires can deliver a powerful shock to curious people and animals. After a storm blows through, it’s important to keep an eye out for damaged wires, lines and cables and report any you see to the utility company.

Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Consider taking steps to mitigate damage before the next big winter storm hits. Have utilities buried so they can’t fall or break, fix loose shingles on your roof and prune your trees to prevent fallen branches.

By Lizzie Weakley

Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and walks in the park with her three-year-old husky, Snowball.

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