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Look up! This winter icicles at the edge of the roofs build up quicker than they are removed. Following the law of gravity they eventually fall down and there are nowadays good reasons to look up – both where you walk and where you park the car.

People have been seriously wounded from falling icicles both in Estonia and Sweden. In both countries the real estate owner is responsible for keeping houses safe in this respect, though the Swedish Supreme Court ruled otherwise in one case a couple of years ago; In this tragic accident a young boy was killed by a falling icicle in downtown Stockholm. In their ruling the Supreme Court found that the responsibility for keeping this particular roof free from icicles and snow had been delegated a company which by contract was considered responsible for keeping the building's roof safe for people passing.

From a general point of view it is obviously up to the real estate owner to keep an eye on his/hers buildings and order the roof to be cleaned from icicles and snow whenever needed. Walking around in both Tallinn and Stockholm it is quite obvious that this doesn't work.

It doesn't work in Oslo either but the authorities in the Norwegian capital have taken swift actions. In addition to issuing fines for wrongly parked cars, Oslo's meter maids nowadays also look up and report roofs being encumbered with icicles and snow. Real estate owners being caught this way are fined with NOK 500:- per day up until the day the roof is cleaned. This fine will now be raised to NOK 5.000:- per day.

Swedish authorities are currently studying the Norwegian initiative and meanwhile a private initiative in Stockholm makes it possible for individuals to report buildings posing a threat to people passing by. A special telephone number called ‘Istappstelefonen* (The Icicle Phone) has been opened for the purpose and a special website, www.istappstelefonen.se, provides additional and useful information.