The City of Plymouth is reminding residents to not let their children play in snowbanks as they could get hurt.
In a tweet on Tuesday, the city said plow drivers have noticed snow forts at the edge of roads and in cul-de-sacs, which can be dangerous because it's "difficult for plow drivers to see kids playing in snow."
The "force/weight of snow coming off plows can collapse tunnels and forts and harm kids," the tweet said.
Snow forts can also collapse on children while they're playing inside, which can result in injury or death, according to several news articles about similar incidents in North America and Europe.
The city's warning is part of its winter plowing messaging it does annually and comes amid a few rounds of wintry weather in the Twin Cities. What's more, many children are home distance learning and/or on winter break.
City spokesperson Helen LaFave told Bring Me The News the safety reminder isn't connected to any particular incident.
It is not common for a child to die in a snow fort-related incident, but it does happen. The Chicago Tribune said it's rare for a child to die in a collapse, but is more common for children to get hurt or killed in a snowbank-related car crash (like with a plow).
In 2019, a 12-year-old girl from Elk Grove Village, Illinois, died when a snow fort collapsed on her, the Chicago Tribune reported. Her 9-year-old friend was treated for hypothermia.
And in 2014, two boys in upstate New York were trapped for several hours after a plow buried them in the snow for at least six hours, ABC7 reported. They both survived.
The Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital recommends not leaving children unsupervised when they're playing outside and parents should be vigilant about enforcing snow-safety rules, like not building snow structures with a roof or make tunnels that could collapse on them, according to Parents magazine.
Meanwhile, the safest way to build a snow fort is to start from the ground up – not by digging into a snowbank, the Chicago Tribune said.