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WILLOUGHBY HILLS, Ohio (WJW) – Nature’s winter ornaments can be beautiful to look at, but the spikes of ice hanging off of many Northeast Ohio buildings can do some real damage. 

“Icicles are very dangerous and they present a number of hazards to people and buildings,” said Willoughby Hills Fire Chief Robert Gandee.

He says they don’t often have to respond to icicle injuries, but when they do, they can be severe. 

“Sometimes it hits people in the eyes or it could actually, some of them are sharp enough they could create some punctures or cuts,” Gandee said.

He also stresses safety to people who don’t want to use a licensed contractor and remove them on their own. 

“Making sure that when you’re healthy to go out to remove icicles. One, you have to have the right equipment and have the knowledge and be outfitted with the right materials to do it safely,” Gandee said.

The chief and firefighter Zach Martin walked FOX 8 through the proper way to bring icicles down, recommending a long pole and starting low. 

“You’re just going to tap them, if you can try to, you know, keep them away from windows because they will head toward the direction of where you push them. You also have to be careful too and, with bigger icicles, sometimes they’ll ride down the pole that you’re holding and come right toward you,” he said.

Gandee also urges caution not to come into contact with electrical wires. 

“We see instances where the icicles are knocked off and they hit a gas meter or electrical meter and then creating other sets of hazards,” Gandee said.

Ice damming on people’s roofs can also be a hazard and cause leaks and water damage. Firefighters say if the problem becomes too big, call a licensed contractor instead of trying to melt any ice yourself.

“We see people that try to use fire and torches to try and melt the icicles which is a really bad idea and we’ve seen a number of fires over the years at commercial buildings and houses when people try to do that,” said Gandee.

The fire chief also recommends trying to clear doorways from any icicles, especially as the weather changes and icicles can dislodge. Just remember to do it safely or have someone else do it.