WILLOUGHBY HILLS, Ohio (WJW) – Nature’s winter ornaments can be beautiful to look at, but the spikes of ice hanging off homes and buildings can do some real damage. “Icicles are very dangerous and they present a number of hazards to people and buildings,” said Fire Chief Robert Gandee of Willoughby Hills Fire Department in Ohio.

Gandee said his department doesn’t often have to respond to icicle injuries, but when they do, they can be severe. “Sometimes it hits people in the eyes, or … some of them are sharp enough they could create some punctures or cuts,” Gandee said.

Gandee also stresses safety for people who try to remove icicles on their own, rather than use a licensed contractor. “One, you have to have the right equipment and have the knowledge and be outfitted with the right materials to do it safely,” said Gandee.

Gandee and firefighter Zach Martin walked Nexstar’s WJW through the proper way to bring icicles down, recommending a long pole and starting low.

“You’re just going to tap them … keep them away from windows because they will head toward the direction of where you push them,” Gandee said. “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.

It’s also imperative 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 — or a ridge of ice on the edge of the roof — can also be a hazard and cause leaks and water damage. If the problem becomes too big, firefighters recommend calling 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 clearing doorways from any icicles before the weather changes and they dislodge. But again, he urges homeowners to do it safely — or contact a professional.