Hazards: Snow Shoveling & Removal

Winter Storm icon

Snow removal involves more than just clearing sidewalks with a shovel or snow blower - snow can endanger, clog or block access to fire hydrants, stormdrains, accessible parking, roofs and decks.

It's important to stay safe by following these guidelines.



Snowflake iconThe Snow Plow & Road Conditions page covers plowing status, responsibility and road conditions.

Snowflake iconThe Winter Storm page covers winter storm warnings, snow and cold temperature safety.

Snowflake iconThe Winter Safety page covers heating safety and assitance, home safety and more.

What to Do

  • If there is any reason that shoveling snow might be dangerous for you, such as a heart condition, consult your doctor before shoveling.
  • Dress properly for the weather, in layers, covering exposed skin.
  • Avoid overexertion. Shoveling snow is hard on your body and cold weather puts additional strain on your heart.
  • If you or someone you are with begins to have chest discomfort, call 9-1-1 right away.

Sidewalk Snow Removal (Shovel or Snow Blower)

The state and the county do not clear snow and ice from public walkways (sidewalks and trails). While not legally obligated, residents and businesses are asked to help keep sidewalks safe. They should, as soon as feasible, clear snow off the sidewalks in front of their property so that all pedestrians, especially school children, those with disabilities and the elderly, may walk securely.

Homeowner associations may require members of their communities to clear walkways abutting their property. Contact your association or property manager for further information.

Ways you can help:

  • Start a neighborhood team to help shovel snow for elderly and those unable to shovel.
  • Volunteer to use equipment you may have such as small snow blowers for a community removal effort
  • Shovel snow into the yard instead of into the street to minimize the problem of the snowplow covering your driveway with snow after you've just shoveled it.

Deck and Roof Snow Removal

Snow and Roof Safety for commercial and residential buildings.

  • Residents should watch for falling snow and ice from their roofs, but should not attempt to access their roofs to try to clear the snow due to the safety concerns of slipping off the roof and exposure to electrical wires.
  • Clear the areas around downspouts and roof drains so that melting water has a path to flow away from the house.
  • Clear snow and ice away from exhaust vents that go through the exterior walls.

Deck snow removal

  • Decks can be cleared of snow to reduce the stress to these structures, although they are designed to support the snow load.

Stormdrain Snow Removal

Keep the openings of storm drains clear of snow and debris to help alleviate potential flooding and to protect the environment. At no time, however, should a resident attempt to enter a storm drain to remove debris.

Property owners are responsible for driveway culverts and bridges that are part of the driveway structure and are not public storm drainage system structures. Storm drains outside rights-of-way and easements are privately maintained by the property owner.

To report a blocked storm drain, call Fairfax County Stormwater Management, 703-877-2800, TTY 711, or the Virginia Department of Transportation at 703-383-8368, TTY 711. 

Fire Hydrant Snow Removal

Clear snow away from fire hydrants in your neighborhood. Ask neighbors to adopt a fire hydrant and clear snow and ice away from all hydrants so that they are easily visible in the event of a fire. Residents also are reminded that parking is prohibited within 15 feet of a fire hydrant located along the curb line or edge of any public or private roadway. No special curb marking is required for enforcement.

Accessible Parking Snow Removal

Residents and businesses should make sure that all parking spots identified as accessible parking spaces for people with disabilities are cleared of snow and ice.

County Facility Snow Removal

The Department of Public Works and Environmental Services is responsible for snow removal at most general county facilities and county-maintained park-and-ride and commuter rail station lots. Clearing is performed on a priority basis, with government centers, police and fire facilities having highest priority. For information, email the Maintenance & Stormwater Management Division or call 703-877-2800, TTY 711. Snow clearance for facilities under the jurisdiction of the county's Department of Housing and Community Development, the Fairfax County Park Authority and Fairfax County Public Schools is the responsibility of those agencies.


Related Information

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