How to Prevent Slips and Falls in Icy Weather
A few pointers from the pros at TOH, including some smart ways to plan-ahead
We've gathered some of our top go-to tips for icy weather. Got a tip of your own? Leave comment below
A liquid magnesium chloride blend...
...applied with a garden sprayer a few hours before a storm, can melt slow accumulations of less than 2 inches and keep ice from bonding to hard surfaces. Count on using 1 gallon for every 1,000 square feet.
Shoveling several times, even while it's still storming, so that snow doesn't get a chance to bond to surfaces. (It's also a lot easier to shovel 2 inches of snow than 5.) Get down to the pavement beneath so that sunlight can warm it up and prevent ice from forming.
Pick the right deicer
Rock salt is cheap and works at temperatures above 12 degrees F, but it's tough on shrubs and grass and can eat away at concrete. Two other salts, magnesium chloride and calcium chloride, cost more but are less harsh (though still not great for plants) and work at much lower temps than rock salt (from 20 to 25 degrees below zero F). Still pricier is a nonsalt option called urea. It's usually used as a fertilizer, and it can be a little tough to find. Wear gloves when spreading any deicer by hand. For large areas, use a handheld spreader or a push spreader, but not a grass spreader (the deicing granules will gunk up its gears). Store deicers off the floor or in a sealed bucket to keep them dry.
Use sand or kitty litter...
...to add traction to slippery surfaces. Choose sandbox sand over mason's sand, which is too fine. Or try alfalfa meal, a slow-acting fertilizer that also helps melt snow—your yard will thank you.
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