According to a study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, during the year 2014 more than 36,800 people were injured at work by slips and falls caused by snow or ice. That statistic does not include the tens of thousands of additional snow and ice fall injuries suffered by people at their homes, incidents that frequently go unreported but which nonetheless cause pain, loss of productivity, and that can lead to huge medical bills, not to mention long-term suffering during recovery.
Winter weather, with snowfall, sleet, and ice, can make driveways, sidewalks, stoops, and other outdoor areas dangerous for pedestrians. Such precipitation and freezing conditions also make safe operation of vehicles a much greater challenge. But life doesn’t come to a halt just because some snow falls or some asphalt freezes over. Even when wintry weather sets in, we still need to get to work, get to the grocery store, go to medical appointments, visit friends and family, and a million other things.
The key to staying safe when venturing out during the depths of winter weather is to plan ahead. That means checking the forecast daily to anticipate upcoming weather and running any errands you can before the snow falls. It means preparing the surfaces on which you’ll have to walk with snow melt products. It means having the right footwear to keep you upright and stable and the right protective clothing to keep yourself dry and warm. And it means having a few key products on hand that can help you clear snow and ice quickly and efficiently so you can get on with your life.
For starters, you need a great snow shovel. I’ve already written about the DMOS Alpha snow shovel, and it’s still my top pick in that department. But a snow shovel is just one part of the arsenal you need to stay safe around your property this winter.
An ice melter that’s safe for people and pets
If you know that snowfall is on its way, be proactive and sprinkle ice melt over all the hard surfaces on which you, your family, or any visitors will have to walk. That includes the steps and stoop, the walkway, the driveway, the sidewalk in front of your home, the patio, and so forth. Spreading an ice-melting product before the snow falls will save you time clearing snow later (it won’t stop heavy snowfall from accumulating, but it will prevent it from icing up and adhering to the ground) and will provide traction on the slick, icy ground created by precipitation and frigid temperatures.
And should you awake to find an unexpected blanket of snow or ice covering your property, ice melt will help you break up and clear the stuff faster than you could do with a shovel or snow blower alone. I recommend Safe Paw Non-Toxic Ice Melter becuase, as the name suggests, it’s safe for use around pets and people, not to mention wild animals. This stuff costs a bit more than ice melters that are heavier on the chemicals, but people, pets, and the planet are worth it.
A snow brush/ice scraper combo that clears the windshield fast
If your mornings don’t involve a spare 20 minutes during which you can let the car heat up and the snow and ice covering the windshield melt away, then you need a great tool for clearing that frigid mess away.
Fortunately, this Mallory USA Snow Brush Ice Scraper combination tool costs less than $10, so you can afford to keep one on hand. Or keep two around, one in the car, one near the door of your home. The brush helps you clear snow off of the windshield, windows, mirrors, and away from the light. Thanks to its long handle, most people will be able to clear the whole windshield with ease. If you find a layer of ice encrusted over the glass underneath that snow, no problem: flip the tool around and get to scraping.
A slip-resistant carpet that covers the snow and ice instantly
So you forgot to spread out that ice melter before the snow fell or the wet ground froze, ey? And now you’re in a rush and there’s no time to clear away that hazardous precipitation? No problem! Just roll out this No Slip Ice and Snow Carpet from Outdoor Carpets and stride over snow, ice, or slush with confidence. The carpet measures 10 feet long and 2.5 feet wide, creating a capacious surface on which you can safely stride wearing any type of footwear.
The carpet easily conforms to the shape of steps or a stoop, helping to make navigation out of the house and down to the walkway or driveway safe and simple. And should you need to buy two or more of these slip-prevention carpets, you’ll be glad to know they only cost $22.
Easy-on cleats that keep you safe on snow and ice
If you have to head out for a walk when the ground is covered with ice or snow, you could strap on a pair of snowshoes or cross-country skis, or you could get a pricey pair of boots with multi-directional lugs and rugged outsoles designed for glacier trekking. Or you could spend about $20 and get a set of STABILicers Traction Ice Cleats. These handy cleats strap onto the bottom of just about any shoe, from a sneaker to a loafer to a work boot (high heels and wingtips are probably out, though), and they feature approximately two dozen metal teeth that dig into packed snow or ice, helping you maintain traction even in rough, wintry conditions.
STABILicers are easy to adjust to various shoe types and sizes; they come in five different sizes, and each size accommodates a range of three shoe sizes (large fits men’s shoes between 10.5 to 13, for example). Whether you’re taking the dog for a walk, making your way across town, or just making your way down your long driveway, it’s worth it to spend the few bucks to get these cleats.
A snow blanket that clears your car’s windshield in seconds
You know what’s more fun than scraping snow and ice off of your vehicle’s windshield? Everything, basically. If you know there is snow in the forecast, or if you live in an area where snow is so frequent you can essentially always expect it, then spend one minute each time you get home and cover your vehicle’s windshield with the SnowOFF Car Windshield Snow Ice Cover. Doing so will save you 10 or 15 minutes the next morning.
This durable fabric cover lets you whisk away even a heavy layer of snow in one fell swoop, leaving your windshield clear and ready for safe driving. The oversized blanket also has a hood skirt that covers the windshield wipers and sprayers, preventing them from becoming crusted with ice and rendered unusable. The SnowOFF clips onto your car and can be sandwiched into the doors, so it stays in place even in high winds and under heavy snow load.
Don’t drive in the snow without chains on the tires
I have personally witnessed SUVs and pickup trucks go sliding off snowy roads due to the overconfidence of their drivers. A false belief that a four-wheel drive vehicle is safe for use on snowy, icy roads may end up with your car being pulled out of a ditch or worse. The fact is that unless your vehicle is outfitted with specialty snow tires, it can’t be safely operated on snow- or ice-covered roads without snow chains on the tires.
The Security Chain Company’s Super Z6 Tire Chains cost more than many other snow chain sets out there, but they are also suitable for use on cars, trucks, or SUVs, and that versatility coupled with their durability makes them worth the investment. Also, most snow chains are fantastically frustrating to apply; these go on in a matter of minutes, usually with no need to move the vehicle midway though the process, either.