You may well have weatherproofed your home as winter approached, but there is little you can do to prepare the area around it for that initial heavy downfall of snow. After all, it may come and it may not. You just have to deal with it if and when it does.
Of course, snow can be fun for children and adults alike when it first comes down and we have all enjoyed a day off work or school sliding down a local hill on a sledge or playing snowballs. But the snow can be dangerous for older members of the family or for neighbours who are not too steady on their feet. It helps to know a sure-fire way of clearing pathways and keeping them cleared. There are as many theories on clearing snow as the eskimos are said to have for it, but here is our lowdown on how best to safely clear it and keep ice from forming where you have to walk.
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Clear snow as early as you can
Wait until the snow has stopped falling if you can and then shovel a pathway in the snow from the road to your house, being sure to clear a path for older neighbours. If the snowfall is heavy then it may be worth shovelling it away a couple of times during the fall. Newly-fallen snow will be softer and easier to shovel. Use a lightweight snow shovel if you have one. A shovel will always be better than a spade.
Know where the snow is going
Think about where you are shovelling your snow and try not to build up large banks of snow that can fall back on the path or become dangerous. This will also save energy as you won’t have to shovel the snow twice.
Don’t pull a muscle
Dress in warm clothes and make sure you are warm before you start, as you could pull muscles otherwise. Warm up or stretch if you can. You may feel silly but if you don’t do this you may hurt yourself, especially if you don’t exercise regularly. Use your legs and not your back to lift the snow and don’t twist too much when throwing snow to the side.
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Stop the ice forming
Once you have cleared snow then throw down some salt to stop ice forming. Just throw it evenly across any paths you have cleared, being sure to keep it away from plants or soil. If you don’t have table salt or dishwasher salt to hand then you can use sand or gravel to at least make the surface less slippery.
Don’t make your own ice!
Never pour hot water on the snow to make a clearing, as this will then freeze and create a slippery surface. It may seem like a quick fix, but it can make for a very dangerous path.
Use the sun
The sun will often come out after a snowfall, so use that to your advantage and allow it to melt what is left of the ice and snow once you have cleared a path. You don’t need to scrape everything away – the sun will beat down nicely on any areas you have cleared.