The danger overhead

The collapse of Blacksburg High School’s gymnasium roof over the weekend reminds us that the dangers of a big winter storm can remain long after the ice and snow stop falling.

Fortunately, no one was in the building when the roof caved in but the gym was packed earlier for a basketball game and inspectors warned people to get out just before it fell.

Roger Hollandworth lost part of the canopy over his gas pumps at Floyd X-Press Mart last week and some barn roofs have collapsed under the weight of packed ice and snow.

A foot or more of snow is heavy. Add ice from melting and refreezing to the mix and you’ve got a heavy, dangerous mess right over your head but safety officials say trying to clear off the roof yourself is an invitation for even more disaster.

Harry Kalashian, a roofing contractor in the Washington area for 32 years, says a home or business owner should never try to clear ice and snow off a roof themselves.

“It’s not worth dying over,” he told The Washington Post. Instead, homeowners should take a trip to the attic with a flashlight.

“If you see fresh cracks, if you have a substantial amount of water coming in, if you hear cracks, they probably have a concern,” he says. If you find a leak, take a knife or screwdriver and dig a hole to drain the water.

Best advice: “Just sit back. This is why you have insurance. This will all be over in a week.”

Or more.