In many parts of the United States, the winter season means snow and ice—which can cause all sorts of problems. Ice makes for precarious footing and sometimes results in injuries, and snow and ice together can form ice dams on your roof or snap tree branches, potentially damaging your home or yard. Thankfully, there are plenty of tools and winter safety tips to help your family and home stay safe this time of year.
1. Take Care of Your Roof, Driveway, and Sidewalk
Driveways, outside stairs, and walkways sometimes become treacherous in the winter, particularly if snow coats a layer of underlying ice. In such conditions, you or another person may slip and fall. You can help prevent this with the following winter safety rules and tools.
Be aware of your surroundings.
Always pay attention to the surfaces ahead of you, including sidewalks and your home’s entryway. Doing so won’t prevent all falls, but it will mitigate most of them.
Wear appropriate shoes and clothing.
When shoveling snow, opt for flat shoes with a noticeable tread. Don’t forget to wear gloves, especially if spreading ice-melt mix on the driveway.
In the winter, take things slow. Make sure your feet are securely placed before taking another step.
Next, invest in some tools to help you through the season. Some prevent ice accumulation, while others are useful once snow and ice cover the ground.
Most people begin clearing away snow with a snow blower. It’s a sensible choice. The blower reduces the amount of snow and ice you’ll need to shovel by hand, which means you shouldn’t incur any back injuries. These popular snow blowers will help you successfully manage the snowfall.
Toro Curve Snow Blower. With over 700 customer reviews averaging four stars, you can trust this snow blower to get the job done. It also features a mid-range price tag—just $249.
Ice-melt distributors work great at what they do, but exercise some caution when deciding on the ice-melt mix you use. Some mixes hurt plants and irritate pets’ paws.
Scotts Mini Broadcast Spreader. This spreader is a helpful tool to distribute ice-melt salt. You can also use it to apply fertilizer in March or April—just make sure to wash it thoroughly first.
Home-X Salt Spreader. If only a small surface area requires salt, consider using a handheld spreader and saving yourself some money.
Safe Paw Non-Toxic Ice Melter. Safe Paw’s ice-melt mix ranks as an Amazon bestseller because it’s safe for pets, kids, and plants. Its pellets also cover more surface area than standard rock salt.
Heated Mats and Cables
Heated mats and cables make shoveling snow a dim memory. The mats can be combined to cover a driveway or used individually on walkways, stoops, and steps. The cables prove ideal for tight corners, such as those found on stairs or patios.
Unprotected outdoor pipes and water connections can sometimes burst, cause floods, or break sprinkler systems. Implement these basic winter safety tips to provide extra protection against the elements.
Drain water from irrigation systems.
You’ll also want to drain water from outdoor faucets and pools. Standing water can cause pipes to break or cracks to form in a pool’s foundation.
Close indoor water valves that supply outdoor faucets.
Then, open the faucets to allow the remaining water to drain.
Store water hoses.
Detach, drain, and store hoses until it’s time to water the lawn and garden again.
Look for insulating items like sleeves and foam to care for your pipes and faucets. You can also use a heating cable for pipes located in crawlspaces.
Patios and decks—especially those made of wood—will appear worse for wear in the spring without some weatherproofing in the fall. Plus, if you plan on roasting marshmallows in the patio fire pit at all during the winter, you’ll want to keep the area free of snow and ice.
Clean the deck or patio.
Dirt, grease, and other debris accumulate during the summer.
Apply a wood sealant.
It’s best to apply a wood protector annually. It prevents water from seeping in and causing mold, mildew, and wood rot.
Cover or store planters and furniture.
To keep away rust and mold, store planters and patio furniture in a dry location or buy weather-resistant covers.
Products for the patio include the heating cables mentioned in the driveway and sidewalks section above. These other products are more preventative.
Outdoor Wood Care Products
Wagner HVLP Sprayer. You can forget about working on your hands and knees with the Wagner Sprayer. It will make applying wood protector quick and easy.
4. Take Care of Your Grass, Trees, Shrubs, and Plants
Setting down mulch and trimming trees are typical winterization duties, but you should also think about ways to best transition plants from winter to spring. The winter safety tips that follow should be done before winter sets in.
Pay particular attention to drooping limbs near your roof. They tend to break when weighed down with snow and ice and could damage your home or yard.
Cover plant beds.
Begin with a layer of mulch and follow it with a protective cover of burlap or other material.
Raking gets rid of dead growth, helping nutrients reach the grass and plants that remain.
Just like you can heat your driveway, you can most certainly heat your yard or garden. You can also protect it with mulch, covers, and pruning. These products will help your outdoor areas survive even the coldest of winters.
With the products and winter safety tips listed here, your home and property will stay safe all winter long. You’ll have no frozen pipes, slips on driveways, or dangerous ice dams. Once you’ve conquered winter, make sure your home is prepared to stay safe during spring, too.
*SafeWise has conducted impartial research to recommend products. This is not a guarantee. Each individual’s unique needs should be considered when deciding on chosen products.
Written by Emily Long
Emily Long is a safety expert for SafeWise.com. She is passionate about promoting safe and healthy habits for day-to-day living. When she isn’t writing about safety and well-being, she can be found teaching yoga, road tripping, or hiking in the mountains. Learn more