Advice from Denver Life

How to handle neighbors who don't shovel their sidewalk. (And other advice.)

Illustration by Ingo Fast

I have a neighbor who doesn’t shovel his sidewalks, and they get icy and treacherous. What can I do to convince him that it’s better for everyone if he shovels ASAP?K.C., Boulder

Seems like a slippery subject, but you’ve got the law on your side, K.C., so you may get this job done with merely a phone call. State law requires all of us, both homeowners and renters, to remove snow and ice from our driveways and sidewalks within 24 hours (even sooner in some cities). This is especially important in places where kids may be walking to the school bus or crosswalk, as you can imagine, but anyone’s life could be drastically altered by one fall. Enforcement and fines vary by municipality. In Boulder, a first offense comes with a $100 fine; continued violations could result in a $1,000 fine and 90 days in jail. You don’t have to confront the neighbor, just give Code Enforcement a call at least 25 hours after a snowstorm. Oh, and by the way, don’t even think of emptying your shovel on the street: All that snow has to remain on your own property.

I get nosebleeds constantly through these dry Colorado winters. I got a humidifier, but it hasn’t helped much, and it’s even worse when I head up to the mountains for a few days. What else can I try?Jarrod, Golden

Blame our dry climate for this common problem, which worsens with altitude because oxygen becomes less available. According to the experts at Colorado’s Associates of Otolaryngology, the heated dry indoor air dehydrates the membranes and causes crusting, cracking, and bleeding. So humidifying should help—but make sure you are following the manufacturer’s instructions on keeping your humidifier clean. Also try keeping your septum lubricated with a water-based ointment (NasoGel and Ayr are two common brands), and spraying nasal membranes with saline. When you have a nosebleed, keep your head elevated and wait a little while before running out onto the slopes. If all else fails, see your doctor.

We’ve had enough of these Colorado winters and are ready to become snow birds and fly away for a few months. But, we’re a little nervous about leaving our house all alone for so long. Any suggestions?Janet, Evergreen

First of all, make sure your compass points south! Second, make sure you’ve got a nest reserved, because longterm rentals in popular destinations fill up early. (Hopefully you asked about whether the lease requires you to pay for utilities, cable, internet, and cleaning, and whether your pets are allowed.) Next step is to call your insurer to find out what measures you’re required to take to prevent water damage while you’re gone. Unplug most of your appliances (not the fridge, that’s just too much work to clean and empty) and turn down the water heater. Put everything on hold that you can newspaper, mail, even cable and internet—and notify your credit card companies that you’ll be traveling and for how long. If you’re leaving a car at home, disconnect the battery; if you’re taking a car, check in with your insurer on coverage for your destination. Finally, you surely have friends and neighbors: Ask someone to stop by the house once a week and make sure everything is OK. Thank them with a gift certificate to their favorite getaway. And one other thing—Google “snowbird scams.” You may not need to wear fleece where you’re headed, but someone just may try to fleece you while you’re gone.

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