Out in the cold

United State Postal Service worker Mitch Kiehne braves the cold as he walks his route on West Cavour Avenue Tuesday afternoon.

Helping out the mail carrier is more than just a kind deed, according to the United States Postal Service. It may determine whether someone will — or won’t — have their mail delivered in a timely fashion.

In order to ensure mail carrier’s safety when heading out in the winter months, postal workers are mandated to follow a set of guidelines. One of those rules states that carriers cannot deliver mail when the area around the mailbox, either near the door or curb, is deemed hazardous because of slippery conditions.

This is especially a concern for residents whose mailboxes are located on porches, where carriers would have to make a trip up steps to deliver mail.

“There’s a lot to do without having to worry about slipping and falling,” said Fergus Falls Postmaster Brad Beck.

It’s important to keep in mind mail carriers are multi-tasking as they’re concerned about reading mail, carrying bags on their shoulders, holding mail in their hands and dealing with unforeseen obstacles many residents don’t consider, Beck said.

Local carriers have taken a few tumbles this year, but Beck said, luckily, injuries have not yet been severe enough to warrant time off from work.

While measures to keep areas around the mailbox safe are helpful for carriers, they are also important for residents who want to receive mail on time.

“We just don’t want to see anyone get hurt, and mail not get delivered,” Beck said.

In addition to shoveling pathways, the United States Postal Service also recommends home owners put down salt or sand to ease possible slippery conditions.

Keeping curbside locations where carriers deliver by automobile is also an issue. According to the United States Postal Service, snow must be cleared at least six feet from the curbline on both sides of the mailbox.

All in all, Beck considers most locals to be courteous, with the majority of people helping out mail carriers on a regular basis.

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