January was kind to Chicagoans, with very little snow or ice to create hazardous conditions. February and March may not follow suit; in the event of icy surfaces during the rest of this winter season, the following tips may keep you and your loved ones safe from falls due to slick surfaces.
Shoveling your driveway and sidewalks immediately following a snowfall can help reduce ice buildup, which usually occurs after snow has melted and refrozen, or after pedestrians tamp down the snow. If time or travel constraints keep you from shoveling right away, consider hiring a teenaged neighbor to do it for you.
Rock salt is inexpensive, and is effective at melting ice and snow when it’s spread on walkways and steps, both before and after a snowfall. The temperature must be 12 degrees F or higher for the salt to work. Don’t overuse it, as it can damage grass and concrete over time. Keep your pets away from rock salt, or look for a similar product that isn’t harmful to animals.
Sand works in any temperature, and offers traction to make walking easier on slick surfaces. But it doesn’t melt the ice and doesn’t dissolve, so it can be tracked into the house, and may clog drainage areas if used excessively.
While a plastic shovel is lighter and just as effective at moving snow, a metal shovel can help break up ice on walkways and driveways. But they’re much heavier than plastic shovels, and if too much force is used, they can damage concrete.
Don’t underestimate the danger that snow and ice can cause. Surfaces can be slippery even if they don’t look like they are. Watch for transparent or “black” ice, especially on an asphalt driveway. Wear appropriate footwear, along with a heavy coat and gloves that can protect your body and hands to some degree if you do experience a fall.
Mr. Handyman of Wheaton-Hinsdale
245 W. Roosevelt Road #69