Following a series of winter storms here in New England, buildings large and small are suffering from roof collapses. A quick search on Twitter this morning reports 10 or more collapses in the Connecticut area in just the last few hours. What are the warning signs of an imminent roof collapse? What should you do and what can you do to prevent it?

1. If you suspect an imminent roof collapse EVACUATE THE BUILDING IMMEDIATELY and CALL 911.

2. Know the warning signs! There are often numerous indications that a collapse is imminent, for example:

  • Visually sagging beams
  • Severe roof leaks
  • Cracked or split wood (bends or ripples in metal supports, cracks in walls and masonry, sheared off screws from steel frames)
  • Doors that suddenly pop open
  • Doors or windows that are difficult to open
  • Bowed utility pipes
  • Creaking, cracking or popping sounds
  • Sprinkler heads that begin pushing down below the ceiling tiles

3. Take steps to prevent the collapse

  • Remove as much snow from the roof as is possible using a roof rake
  • Flat roofs can be shoveled clear, but only if it is determined that the roof is safe to stand upon.
  • Flat roof drainage systems should be kept clear to minimize the risk of excess roof ponding in the event of subsequent heavy rainfall or melting.