News Briefs

Shoveling today? Remember the Mailbox

It takes more than a few flakes to deter letter carriers from making their appointed rounds throughout New England. “But, if they cannot reach your mailbox, they cannot deliver your mail,” said David Guiney, Postmaster of Boston.

“The Postal Service treats safety and service with equal priority,” Guiney said, “That’s why we remind you to include that mailbox in your snow removal routine.”

Letter carriers are on the front line of severe weather conditions. Doorstep deliveries, painted porches and steps quickly grow hazardous. “While salting and rubber-backed mats help, we rely on you to clear the snow,” Guiney said. “If there’s a warm spell, and the melting snow puddles, a quick freeze can make a sidewalk slick again.”

Residents who receive delivery to roadside mailboxes also must keep the approach to, and exit from, the mailbox clear of snow or any other obstacles, like trash cans and other vehicles. “The carrier needs to get in, and then out, without leaving the vehicle or backing up,” said Guiney. “The area near the mailbox should be cleared in a half-moon shape to give the carrier full visibility.”

“Please watch for slow-moving postal vehicles, carriers on foot, and children that play near mailboxes or snow banks,” he said. “And don’t zip by neighbors who are clearing mailboxes or collecting their mail. Let’s all stay safe.”

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.

Check CO Alarms and Keep Vents Clear of Snow

With the season’s first significant snow, State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey reminded residents to test their carbon monoxide (CO) alarms and keep dryer, furnace, and other exhaust vents clear of snow.

“Carbon monoxide is the leading cause of fatal poisoning, and home heating equipment is the primary source of carbon monoxide in the home,” State Fire Marshal Ostroskey said. “As part of your storm planning, check your CO alarms to be sure they’re working properly, and if an alarm is more than five to seven years old, replace it.”

Residents should also be sure to keep outside vents clear of falling, drifting, or shoveled snow. In January 2005, 7-year-old Nicole Garofalo died when a heating vent was blocked by snow drifts outside, allowing carbon monoxide to accumulate inside her Plymouth home. This tragedy led toNicole’s Law, which requires CO alarms on every habitable level of a Massachusetts residence.

“Fuel-fired heating appliances like dryers, furnaces, boilers, and fireplaces are all sources of carbon monoxide,” State Fire Marshal Ostroskey said. “If the vent or flue is blocked, this poisonous gas can reach deadly levels inside the home. Know where the vents on your home are, be sure to clear them when shoveling, and be careful not to blow snow onto them if using a snowblower.”

Massachusetts fire departments reported nearly 18,000 CO incidents in 2020, officials said, and 92% were in residential settings. The poison gas can cause headache, fatigue, dizziness, and/or nausea at lower concentrations and death at higher concentrations. Exposure while asleep is particularly dangerous. For more information on carbon monoxide and CO alarms, visit the DFS website

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