I married into to a family of first responders, so I've learned more than I could have ever imagined I would about public and personal safety and one of those things echoed exactly what I was taught growing up and that is the importance of keeping fire hydrants clear of snow.

The Binghamton area is one of the only areas in which I've lived where I've not seen hydrant marking sticks. If you don' know what a hydrant stick is, it's a reflective piece of metal that stands tall up above a fire hydrant, marking its location to make it easier for firefighters to locate the hydrant in the event of an emergency, and if that emergency happens before the hydrants can be shoveled out.

As Winter Storm Riley dumps snow on the Southern Tier, my husband and I encourage you to do with your kids what we'll be doing with our son, something we both did with our parents from the time we were old enough to walk- shovel out around the hydrants on your street.

Traci Taylor

A lot of people don't think about clearing snow from around the fire hydrants in their neighborhood, especially when they're feeling overwhelmed with the task of trying to shovel out buried vehicles, but every second is precious when it comes to fighting a fire. By taking a couple minutes to clear out the snow around your fire hydrant, it could mean the difference between life and death.

According to my husband’s uncle, Jeffrey Wentworth, retired fire chief with the Collegeville, PA Fire Department, and current Collegeville Emergency Management Coordinator, sometimes the snow is so deep that it can make it almost impossible for fire crews to find a hydrant, especially in the dark of night. Additionally, if the hydrant is covered in ice, even more, valuable time is lost when there's a fire and firefighters have to focus their efforts on uncovering a fire hydrant.

The moral of the story is this- by taking a couple of minutes to remove the snow from your fire hydrant, you’re not only helping our local fire departments, but you’re helping to prevent waste of time that could mean the difference between life and death.

Traci Taylor