Every year, thousands of people end up in the hospital after falling on icy roads and sidewalks. While a fall on the ice may not seem like a big deal, it can result in bruises, broken bones, and many other serious injuries. In order to prevent falls on sidewalks, it is important that you take the time to winterproof them. In this article, you'll learn everything you need to know about winterproofing your sidewalk. Hopefully, this article will help you prepare your sidewalk for winter and therefore prevent injuries. Let's begin!
9 Ways to Winterproof Your Sidewalks
1. Fill in Any Cracks
There is a good chance that there are some cracks in your sidewalk. While these cracks may not seem like an issue, during the winter, they can worsen. As a result, your sidewalk will slowly become damaged. For concrete sidewalks, you'll need a stiff brush, concrete crack filler, and a putty knife. Clean out the cracks with the stiff brush. Rinse it with a high-pressure water hose, or if you have a compressor, blow the area clean. If you are using water pressure, make sure to let the area dry thoroughly before filling with the concrete filler. Once it is dry, squeeze the concrete filler into the crack and make it smooth with a putty knife. Remember to read the instructions on the concrete filler, as every concrete filler is slightly different.
2. Pour Salt or Pellets on Your Sidewalk
Before a winter snowstorm hits, put some salt, sand, or deicing pellets on your sidewalk to prevent ice from forming. Be sure to first check the regulations in your area, as some areas won't allow you to put salt on your sidewalk since it can harm wildlife.
3. Consider Installing a Snow Melting System
If you happen to be laying down or replacing your driveway or sidewalk, consider installing a snow melting system. Snow melting systems use embedded electric cables or hydronic tubing to heat up the driveway and melt the ice. Some systems have timers, while others are activated when the temperature reaches a certain point. Your utility bills will increase slightly with this option. However, you will no longer have to worry about going outside to shovel your snow.
4. Put Down Snow Melt Mats
If installing a snow melting system isn't an option, consider putting down snow melt mats on your sidewalk. Snow melting mats do the same thing as snow melting systems, which is that they melt snow. However, they are much easier to install. All you must do is put your snow melt mat on the ground and plug it in. It is meant to be kept outside all winter long and it keeps snow and ice off of your sidewalks. With this option, you will save time, money, and there will be no more injuries from falling on the ice.
5. Get Everything off Your Sidewalk
If there happens to be anything on your sidewalk, now is the time to get it off. Objects can freeze to your sidewalk, which means you will have to keep them there until it is spring. Also, the items on your sidewalk can become damaged during the winter, as well as make it more difficult for you to shovel your sidewalk. Besides, you want to provide plenty of room for when people walk on your sidewalk.
6. Have All Your Snow Removal Tools Ready
Make sure you have all of your snow removal tools ready. Have your snow shovel ready or purchase a new one. Make sure you pick a snow shovel that will fit your needs. If shoveling snow sounds like too difficult of a task, then consider using a snowblower. Make sure you have enough fuel for your snowblower.
7. Add Traction
While the deicing pellets will help prevent ice from forming, it is a good idea to have some traction on your sidewalk. Great ideas for traction include gravel, kitty litter, alfalfa meal, sand, or ashes from your fireplace. Stock up on these supplies so that after it snows, you can sprinkle some on your sidewalk. You can also sprinkle it on your sidewalk before it snows, but if you're expecting a lot of snow, it is best if you wait to add traction.
8. Cover Your Sidewalk
One way to prevent ice and snow from getting on your sidewalks is to cover your sidewalks with a blanket or tarp. After it snows, lift the blanket or tarp and shake off the snow. Remember to shake off the snow right after it snows outside so that the snow doesn't become packed down. Once the snow is packed down, it will be harder to pick up the tarp.
9. Begin Shoveling as Soon as It Stops Snowing
As soon as it stops snowing outside, go out to begin shoveling the snow. It is much easier to shovel a sidewalk when the snow is fresh and powdery. Once it is hard and packed down, it is much more difficult to shovel. Make sure you are shoveling the snow properly. It is important that you don't use your back to lift the shovel, but instead use your legs. If possible, avoid lifting the snow. Instead, push the snow off to the side. Plan out where you want the snow to go ahead of time so that you can easily push it off to the side. If you must lift the snow, make sure you squat down when you lift it.
Keep good posture as you shovel snow and avoid bending at the waist. If you must turn around, make sure you turn your entire body and don't just twist your waist. Never throw snow over your shoulder, since snow can be heavy and could hurt your shoulders. Before you head outside, warm up by doing some arm and back stretches. This will help prevent you from pulling any muscles when you are shoveling snow. If your sidewalk is long, take breaks in between shoveling.
How to Stay Safe When Walking on Your Sidewalks
Wear Proper Footwear
Proper footwear should place the entire foot on the surface of the ground and have visible treads. Avoid a smooth sole and opt for a heavy treaded shoe with a flat bottom. Boots or shoes with good traction prevent you from falling when walking on the snow or ice.
Don't walk too fast on snow or ice, as you may accidentally fall. Take your steps slowly, and look at the ground as you are walking. Watch out for slick areas and black ice. When walking down stairs, hold onto the railings. Also, don't have your hands in your pockets when walking. In case you did fall, your hands would be able to stop you from hitting the ground as hard.
Watch out for Ice Above You
Ice doesn't just form on the ground. It can also be above you on roofs in the form of icicles. While icicles may seem harmless, if they happen to fall while you are under them, you can become seriously injured. Always look above your head before walking into buildings.
Be Extra Careful When Getting in and out of Vehicles
Most falls occur when you are getting in and out of your vehicle. Even if the ground doesn't look icy, it is still best if you slowly walk on the ice. Hold onto your vehicle for support until you find your balance. Don't assume the ground isn't slippery.
Be Prepared to Fall
While the last thing you want is to fall on the ice, it is good to prepare for a fall. Wear a large coat with plenty of padding inside of it. Keep your hands out of your pockets so that if you fall, you can stop yourself from hitting the ground too hard. If you do fall, prepare to fall forward onto your hands and knees instead of backward.
When it is extremely snowy or icy out, try to stay inside if possible. The sun will melt the ice and snow a little, making your job that much easier. If someone else will be shoveling your snow (your landlord, the city, etc.), wait for them to do it before you head outside. Remember that safety is always first. While you may be anxious to remove the ice and snow from your sidewalks, it is best if you stay inside until the snow and ice melt.
So many people get injured each year by falling on the ice. If you are wanting to prevent injuries from occurring this year, it is a good idea to winterproof your sidewalks. Winterproofing your sidewalks is fairly easy to do. There are many options for winterproofing your sidewalks, such as putting down a snow melt mat or adding sand onto the ground. Remember that safety is always first, so try staying off the ice and be careful when walking on your sidewalk. I hope this article has answered all your questions about winterproofing your sidewalks. Hopefully, by winterproofing your sidewalks, you will be preventing falls on the ice this winter. Stay safe!