John Faldetta, the resident manager at the St. James’s Tower condominium in Sutton Place, will never forget the day he nearly died. A few years ago, while Faldetta was out walking with his wife, a large block of ice fell off a building into their path. It landed about 10 feet away, with scary impact. “You knew that you could not have survived that,” he says.
And just like that, the Ice Corral was born.
Faldetta invented a kit consisting of four adjustable straight pieces and two corner pieces of high-density polypropylene with UV protection. The individual pieces screw into a window air conditioner and prevent snow and ice that have accumulated on top of the unit from sliding off once the temperature rises.
“Air conditioners, they’re protrusions,” says Faldetta. “The inherent problem is that they’re attached to a warm room, and the cold just draws [warm air] in like a magnet. There’s a pile of snow on the air conditioner, and warm air is running through there, constantly warming it up. Between the top of the air conditioner and the bottom of the pile of snow, it liquefies. Because that [pile] is no longer attached to the unit itself, a little bit of wind or high sun and wind will make it slide off.”
This is no joke. Several injuries related to falling snow and ice have been reported over the last few years. In March 2017, for instance, an Italian tourist required six staples in her head after she was hit by a chunk of ice that fell from the Plaza Hotel. Faldetta believes that the Ice Corral will prevent future accidents – and maybe even save buildings some money on liability insurance. In addition, the cost to users is next to nothing – a full kit costs $20 and can be purchased directly through Faldetta’s website (icecorralsolutions.com).
“My hope is that it gets mandated,” he says. “But even a bigger picture would be that insurance companies endorse it. It is just too important.”