Many of us learnt a very harsh lesson last year – snow, ice and humans don't mix. Walking on ice is difficult at the best of times, but doing so when you are wearing anything less than hiking boots is dangerous. The numbers of people heading to A&E shot up during winter last year due to the falling snow and even worse, the icy conditions.
Preventing ice and snow build up around your home is the best thing you can do to prevent injury. Many people are more likely to fall over near their own home as they feel they know the conditions well and take less care. But all it takes is an invisible layer of ice on your path and it is a trip to the hospital.
Before buying any specialist products, simply clearing your path of dirt, leaves and debris will make make your pathways safer. Leaves in particular tend to hold onto moisture and act as a perfect breeding ground for moss which can be very slippery.
The surface you choose for your pathways will go a long way towards the level of safety you can achieve. Smooth surfaces such as some concrete and tiles can be very slippery indeed. Try using a textured surface such as a gritty concrete or smaller tiles which are slightly raised. Gravel is certainly the best possible option.
Ensure your ground surface is flat and free from dips which will allow surface water to gather. Slope your path towards a run off area such as the lawn and there will hopefully be very little water to freeze.
If it does snow, get out there and shovel it away. If you do this while the snow is still soft and hasn't had a chance to go hard, it is a fairly easy job. Any snow left behind will freeze causing what is known as black ice – which is as scary as it sounds! So be thorough.
Products available to help out:
- You can apply a layer of a calcium chloride product before the snow begins to fall. This prevents the snow and ice from bonding with the surface, making it easier to remove.
- Spread rock salt on ice or snow. It will effectively melt it into a slush which is less dangerous to walk on
- Spread grit or sand across affected areas. Once again this provides a more textured surface for walking on.
- It is possible to buy outdoor carpets for laying on stairs and pathways making them less likely to be affected by ice. Sometimes made with coir matting or artificial grass, these can be left down for the whole winter, washed down and used again the following year. Ensure they are attached to the ground with stakes or similar to prevent tripping.