And with winter upon us, there is plenty of snow to look forward to. However, with frequent snow and frigid temperatures comes ice, and with ice comes an increased risk of slipping – which means it’s time to think about keeping your driveway and sidewalk safe. Here are some tips to keep in mind when you’re de-icing your property to keep you and your family safe this winter:
Choose the Right De-icer
The most common products available for homeowners are deicers made of mineral salts. As the salts dissolve, they seep down and create a liquid layer under the ice that allows it to be removed easily. Unfortunately, the chemicals that help turn the ice into water can also be harmful to plants and animals, and contaminate water. As a homeowner, you should balance your needs with any environmental concerns. Check product labels for ingredients that can be more harmful, keep salt away from landscape plants, and use it sparingly when possible. Mixing salt with sand or clay kitty litter is another good idea to reduce the use of salt and help you get more traction when walking on the snow and ice.
Consider the Temperature
Depending on the deicer you purchase, it may not work if the temperature falls below a certain point. Calcium chloride for example, works at much lower temperatures than sodium chloride, a common chemical in deicing products. Consider the average temperatures where you live before purchasing a deicing product, and check its effectiveness after use. If the ice isn’t beginning to melt within 15-30 minutes after application, the temperature may be too low for your product.
Keep Walkways Shoveled
Keeping walkways and the driveway shoveled in the first place is an important step, since snow quickly becomes ice when walked upon. The sooner after the snow falls, the better. Make sure to user proper technique and the right shovel to make clearing snow easierand avoid the risk of injury.
The sooner you can apply an ice removal product to your driveway, walkway and sidewalk, the better. You can even pre-treat before the storm hits, which will allow you to use less deicer in the long run.
De-ice the Sidewalk
Depending on the municipality you live in, you may be responsible for clearing the sidewalk adjacent to your property from snow and ice. In Toronto for example, the city provides mechanical sidewalk snow clearing in some areas, but not in others. Therefore, the city asks all residents and business owners to clear the ice and snow for sidewalks adjacent to their properties within 12 hours of a snowfall. Failure to do so could result in a fine of $100.00 plus a $25.00 surcharge.
What to Do If You’re On Vacation
If you’re planning on going on vacation this winter, make sure that you’ve arranged for someone you know – like a friend or neighbour – to clear away ice and snow on your property. Your liability is not likely to change in the case of an accident on your property when you’re on vacation.
Speaking of liability, it’s important to review your home insurance policy to ensure that you have sufficient coverage in case of an accident caused by snow or ice, like a slip and fall on your property. Homeowners are obligated to keep their premises reasonably safe, and clearing away snow and ice falls into that category.