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How to keep your pathways free from ice and snow this winter
The harsh winter weather can make our roads, pavements and pathways incredibly dangerous, especially if snow and ice is left to its own devices as the cold takes hold.
Read on for the do’s and don’ts of deicing walkways and other surfaces.
What not to do
DON’T pour boiling water on the ice in an attempt to melt it
Hot water might appear to make the ice disappear – but if it’s cold enough, it will eventually refreeze and turn into the one thing everyone dreads: black ice. Black ice is ultra-slippery and virtually invisible, making it a real problem for unsuspecting passers-by.
DON’T leave the snow or ice and hope it’ll go away!
If you leave the snow or ice be, it will only be packed tighter into the ground as people walk or drive on it. Try to remove the top layer of snow first thing in the morning, as the sun will naturally help to melt some of the underlying ice throughout the day.
DON’T attempt to clear the snow or ice if it means you’re risking injury
You should of course do everything you can to keep walkways and driveways clear – but that said, you should only shovel snow and treat ice if you are physically fit enough to do so. If you have a bad back, for example, avoid making your injury worse and ask somebody else to carry out this task for you.
DON’T block other people’s paths and drains with excess snow
Dispose of the snow responsibly, and make sure it doesn’t obstruct somebody else’s property. The easiest way to remove snow is to create a path down the middle of the area that needs to be cleared, then move unwanted snow to the sides.
How to get rid of ice and snow safely
DO use rock salt or white de-icing salt
These materials make it more difficult for water to freeze. If ice and snow have been forecast for the following day, be sure to lay rock salt or deicing salt the evening beforehand to keep your pathway, driveway or walkway as clear as possible during peak times.
Order your own rock salt or deicing salt online instead of taking it from public salting bins, as these are solely for the use of the local authorities. If you’ve been hit by a sudden snowstorm and don’t have any deicing materials to hand, you can use sand or ash to add better grip to the affected area in the short term.
DO pay attention to steps and steep hills
These areas are particularly hazardous, and you may need to use a little more deicing salt to get rid of the thicker layers of ice and snow that tend to form on them.
DO remove the top layer of snow before using a deicing treatment
Take away the top 2cm of snow before you lay down any rock salt or deicing salt, otherwise it will be less likely to penetrate the ice below.
DO keep rock salt and deicing salt away from pets and plants
The chemicals in these products are harmful to animals and plant life, so they need to be stored well away from them. Make sure you don’t spread them on your grass or flower beds, either.
DO wait for the ice to start melting before you begin to clear it
You’ll need to give the ice 15-30 minutes to soften before you use a shovel to get rid of the slush that will be left behind.
DO offer to clear your neighbour’s property, if you can
If you have an elderly or disabled neighbour, and you are fit enough to clear their property for them, please do so. Getting rid of lingering snow and ice will reduce the risk of slips, trips and falls should they need to leave the house.