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How to safely and effectively clear snow and ice from paths, patios and driveways

By Edited Jun 11, 2015 1 1

The winter of 2009/2010 saw record falls of snow in the UK. With councils failing to get to grips with clearing paths and pavements many residents were left to do the job themselves.

There was controversy about whether or not people should clear such snow, for fear of litigation by pedestrians suffering falls. However, many residents, around the country, decided the snow and ice presented a far greater danger.

So, if you were to clear snow and ice, could you do so effectively and safely?

Here are some tips and thoughts for you to consider.

Things You Will Need

Warm clothing

Good footwear

A flat sided spade or snow shovel.

A stiff sweeping brush.

Salt, cat litter, coarse sand, dishwasher salt or grit.

Step 1

Dress appropriately.

It is all too easy, to just run outside to clear the snow, without considering how long the task may take. Unless you want to risk hypothermia or frostbite, wrap up warm.

Sensible warm clothing is a must. Preferably wear a hat and gloves, also. Think about what footwear will be the most suitable for the job in hand. You do not want to slip as you are clearing the snow, do you?

Footwear needs to be waterproof but warm.

Step 2

Watch your back.

Many back injuries occur around the home. After a period of inactivity, such as Christmas for example, throwing yourself whole heartedly into snow clearing may not be the best idea you have ever had.

Take your time and take plenty of breaks. Of course, it will depend on the size of the area to be cleared. If it is a large area perhaps the family will help.

Make sure that you stretch your joints and back from time to time, especially if you are taking a break. Take care not to pull your back or fall.

Step 3

Tools needed

Again, it depends where you are clearing the snow from, and the size of area. Ideally, you need a purpose bought snow shovel. These are large and flat sided.

You can also use an ordinary flat sided shovel. Remember that if the spade or shovel you use is bulky and heavy, it will make the job that bit harder.

A stiff sweeping brush will be useful for sweeping any remnants of snow or ice from the area.

You do not have to clear the full width of the path. The choice is yours. However, if you only clear a narrow path, it may be a waste of time. People may still slip on the ice and snow at the edges.

Step 4

Sensible Advice.

Ideally snow should be pushed away in front of you.

It is best to avoid lifting heavy shovelfuls of snow.

If you do, and you throw this to the side, you may hurt your back.

Remember to lift with your legs and not your back.

Try to ensure that the shovel is not too heavy, when full of snow.

Step 5

What you can use to prevent ice reforming.

After you have cleared the area of ice and snow there are a few different options:-

Sprinkle cheap coarse salt, dishwasher salt, cat litter, coarse sand or grit to help prevent ice reforming. This will also melt any remanants of the snow and ice.


Snow is fun for many people. However, when you are clearing the snow there are a few possible hazards. Act sensibly in order to minimise any dangers. If you are very unfit, it will probably be as well to ask someone to clear the snow and ice for you.

Just like exercising, it will be beneficial for you to warm up before clearing the snow and cool down afterward. This can be with a few simple stretching exercises.

Tips & Warnings

Keep warm and dry.

Watch your back.

Take your time.

Make sure you leave the area cleared safe and clear.

Never rinse with warm or cold water

Once you start the job finish it.



Jan 24, 2010 10:09am
This is very helpful although no fear of having that problem where we live in australia.
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