BISMARCK, ND (KXNET) — While the focus during heavy snowfall is clearing steps, driveways and sidewalks, homeowners are also encouraged to make sure three other areas outside are kept free of snow accumulations: Meters, house vents and fire hydrants.

Meters: Accumulations of snow and ice can cause a gas meter and its regulator to malfunction, causing problems with accurate meter readings and billing. It can also stress the pipes, potentially leading to gas leaks. Keeping snow and ice off the meter and its pipes can proactively prevent problems. You can get more information on this from Montana-Dakota Utilities here.

House vents: Check your house side vents and, if possible, the roof vents as well. It’s important to keep them clear so they aren’t blocked. Blocked vents can allow things like carbon monoxide to back up into the home. Shovel around your vents, but use a broom to clear the vent itself to prevent damage to your equipment.

Fire hydrants: If you have a fire hydrant on or near your property, consider clearing the snow away from it to help the fire department in case of a call. Ideally, the hydrant should be cleared down to the ground in a four-foot radius around the hydrant. This helps to significantly reduce the time it takes for the fire department to get water on a fire by ensuring that fire crews can find and access the hydrant when it’s needed the most.