NEW YORK (WYSR-TV) — As snow falls in certain parts of New York near the Great Lakes, The Firefighters Association of the State of New York (FASNY) is urging New Yorkers who live near a fire hydrant to take a few minutes to check if it’s accessible and visible to fire departments.

They also are reminding all New Yorkers to check if they have cleared all ventilation pipes around their homes to not leave these potentially life-saving equipment hidden.

In an emergency, firefighters have to be able to access a fire hydrant and in the critical minutes firefighters spend searching for and digging out a fire hydrant in the snow, the less time they have to save a person’s life.

Residents who live near a fire hydrant are recommended to dig a three-foot area around it.

“Following heavy snowfall, people should always check around their homes for blocked ventilation pipes and fire hydrants,” said FASNY President Edward Tase, Jr. “Carbon monoxide is odorless and deadly, and this simple task can save your life.  Everyone should have working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors on every floor of their home and outside of sleeping areas.”

The coming winter storm may block or ice over ventilation pipes and shafts for home heating units, washing machines and other appliances as well. Those should also be checked on to make sure they aren’t blocked by the snow or ice.

Poor ventilation can lead to a dangerous buildup of carbon monoxide, which is an odorless, tasteless, colorless and toxic gas.

FASNY also recommends New Yorkers check their vehicles’ exhaust pipes to make sure they are clear of snow before starting them.

During the winter season, there’s typically an uptick in home fires according to FASNY. Just this year, New York has the third most home fire fatalities in the country and is closely behind Pennslyvania and Texas.

More than 80 percent of the fire-related casualties in New York are a result of a residential home fire compared to the country-wide average of 76 percent.

In order to stay safe following a Winter snow storm, FASNY recommends the following:

  • Clear snow from in front of your home or business and locate the nearest fire hydrant.
  • Shovel snow away from the fire hydrant, leaving at least three feet clear on each side.
  • If you have a home heating system, ensure that all vents are clear of blockages. A block of exhaust fumes can lead to a dangerous buildup of carbon monoxide. 
  • If you lost power and are using a generator, make sure it is properly ventilated.
  • ALWAYS check your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are working and replace the batteries if needed.