Home Tip Tuesday: Tips for Safe Snow and Ice Removal

Dress appropriately and keep your vision clear.

Keeping walkways snow- and ice-free in the winter is no one’s idea of a good time, but neither is slipping and falling every time you leave the house. It’s not a job that can be ignored, but you can make snow removal safer and easier with a little know how.

Safety First
Removing snow from the sidewalk as soon as possible is the best way to decrease or eliminate dangerous icy patches, but snow removal has its own peril. Prevent injury and keep your walkways clear by following these safety tips:

  • Check with your doctor to make sure you’re healthy enough to do the job
  • Start clearing snow before the storm is over. It’s better to remove several light layers than wait until the fluffy stuff is packed and heavy
  • Dress appropriately. Wear light layers of water-repellant clothing and shoes or boots with slip-resistant traction
  • Keep your field of vision clear. Don’t obscure your direct or peripheral vision with a scarf or hat. Keep a watch for icy spots and trip hazards
  • Warm up and stretch. Shoveling snow is serious exercise, a 10-minute warm-up could help you prevent injury such as muscle strain

Use the right equipment and be mindful of body mechanics.

  • Use the right equipment. An extra-wide shovel may seem like the perfect tool for getting the job done quickly, but the weight of that extra-wide load could cause injury. Your shovel should be long enough to use without bending at the waist and light enough to lift easily
  • Be mindful of body mechanics. Push the snow instead of lifting it, and if you must lift use the strength of your legs, not your back. Don’t throw shovelfuls of snow, walk them to your discard area instead
  • Read and follow the instructions for your snow blower. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, snow blowers were responsible for more than 15,000 injuries in 2015 alone! Never leave a running blower unattended and never refuel while the engine is running

Be Salt Savvy
Scattering rock salt is an easy way to melt the ice on your driveway or sidewalks, but it’s not environmentally friendly. Salt can damage landscape plants and leach into the water supply. Pet owners may already know salt can burn a pet’s sensitive paw pads. So what’s the alternative? Unfortunately there’s not really another product that can do what salt does. Sand or birdseed can provide traction on slippery surfaces, but they won’t remove the ice. If you must use salt, use it sparingly—one handful is enough to treat a square yard.  Avoid sodium chloride and potassium chloride which may both contain dangerous chemicals. Keep de-icing products away from salt-sensitive plants such as maple trees, roses, spirea and most evergreens.

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