Tips for Safe, Effective Snow Removal
When it comes to removing snow from driveways and sidewalks, homeowners have important responsibilities. Here’s what you need to know about safe, effective snow removal, along with tips for avoiding fines.
Understand your responsibility. Many people are surprised to learn that they may be legally responsible for removing snow from the areas around their dwelling. Many cities issue steep fines to homeowners who allow snow to pile up for days on end. If you aren’t sure of your liability, check with your community’s Department of Public Works.
Equip yourself. Choose a flat plastic shovel equipped with a metal lip, or look for a “back saver” shovel, which includes a bent handle that helps reduce back strain. Ideally, you want a shovel that won’t be too heavy for you to lift and toss to the side. Depending on your home’s layout, you may want to purchase a wide pusher shovel that functions much like a miniature plow. If you have to contend with an especially large driveway, consider foregoing the shovel in favor of the amplified power—and reduced back pain—of a snowblower.
Be careful where you send your snow. Just because you remove snow from your property, doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. If you shovel your snow out into the street, it can become a navigational hazard, which might be dangerous for the traveling public. In this case, you may be subject to fines and could even be sued if your snow causes an accident.
Be safe. Sadly, it’s not all that rare for people to suffer heart attacks or injuries while shoveling in cold weather. Be sure to play it safe by pacing yourself during snow removal. You should wear gloves and a hat and drink plenty of water even if you aren’t especially thirsty. You should also use caution when trying to remove snow from your roof or you could end up suffering a serious accident.
Avoid de-icing products. Since many de-icing products can damage underlying surfaces, consider using salt instead. If you have a newer sidewalk, it’s generally better to use a salt and calcium chloride mix. If you have pets, it may be better to avoid these altogether since they could get sick if they ingest the substances. Even if you keep your pets indoors, they could still get sick from licking de-icing residue off your shoes.
Get help. Some homeowners may struggle to remove snow and ice from sidewalks adjacent to their properties within the timeframes required by their local ordinances. The responsibility can be especially challenging for single parents, people with disabilities, seniors, pregnant women and people who work several jobs. Unfortunately, as a homeowner you are still responsible and may want to consider hiring a service or asking a neighbor to assist with snow removal if you don’t feel like you are able to keep up with it
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