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7 Winter Safety Hacks for Your Driveway

To help you prevent slips and falls, here are some easy tips to help keep your driveways and sidewalks safe during and after icy weather.

Shoveling snow in driveway

A winter wonderland can be beautiful, but it also can be dangerous when white, fluffy snow turns into treacherous ice. When that happens, the flat surface of your home’s driveway can quickly morph into a virtual ice rink. To help you prevent slips and falls, here are some easy tips to help keep your driveways and sidewalks safe during and after icy weather:

1. Preparation is Key

Pay attention to the weather forecast and spread gravel, wood chips, and straw before snow and ice accumulate to provide traction. You can also spread kitty litter, birdseed, or sawdust on top of ice to help you gain better footing. Sand can also help increase traction on ice and won’t hurt plants, but it must be cleaned up after use to avoid clogging drains and run-off into plants and gardens.

 
2. Check Product Labels

 Some commercial ice melt products work by attracting moisture to form a liquid brine, generating heat that melts and loosens the ice. Some commercial ice melt products can cause plant injury, especially if you use too much, and others can be harmful to pets. When using commercial products, it’s important to always follow label instructions and avoid over applying.To avoid damage, never use ice melt products on concrete that hasn’t fully cured or on a driveway that is less than a year old.

3. Easy on the Salt

Salt is a popular, inexpensive, and readily available ice melting solution, but even though it is a natural substance, it is corrosive and can cause damage to cars, fabrics, and carpet.It can even burn your pet’s paws, harm nearby plants and grass, and contaminate water.

4. Salt Substitute for De-Icing

Urea is a fertilizer that can be used for deicing.While it is less corrosive than salt and safer for pets, it can be more damaging to plants. Also keep in mind that the urea will eventually run off the driveway and can harm waterways.

5. Invest in a Mat

If it’s time to replace your driveway and you live in a cold climate, you might consider installing a snow melt mat.

6. Alternative Ice-Melts

FarmersAlmanac.com recommends some natural ice melting alternatives, including alfalfa meal and a homemade ice melt for the driveway made from sugar beet juice.You can find bags of alfalfa at gardening stores, and you can grow beets in the garden for their juice.The alfalfa meal can help melt ice while providing additional traction.Sugar beet juice can be used by itself to lower the freezing point of water, or to dilute salt solutions. The beet juice will not harm people, pets, plants, or the environment.

7. Dig Out the Ol' Shovel

Perhaps the best way to keep your driveway safe during icy weather is good, old-fashioned shoveling.With this method, you won’t have to worry about harming pets, plants, waterways, or your driveway, and you won’t have higher energy bills.Plus, you’ll get the added benefit of regular workouts.

Regardless what method of ice removal you choose, always take care when walking on snowy and icy surfaces. Take it slow, and don’t rush.  Wear sturdy boots or shoes that have good treads to provide good traction.  Be especially careful when turning or when getting in and out of a car.  Don’t carry too many items at once, and take advantage of handrails if they are available.  If you have one, use a ski pole or a hiking pole with a sharp end to help you balance.

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