For the most part, we have been experiencing an extremely mild winter however there’s still plenty of time for a snow storm or two before we can celebrate the arrival of spring.
When bad weather does hit, it’s tempting to use more rock salt or other deicers than might actually be necessary to keep driveways and sidewalks from becoming impassable or dangerously slick from ice formation. For both cost and environmental reasons, more isn’t necessarily a good idea.
Overuse of these materials ultimately impacts our natural waterways and aquatic life, since rain and snow melt make their way through storm drains that empty directly into streams and rivers. As concentrations increase, so too does the potential damage. Additionally, runoff directed to lawns or other areas of vegetation can cause damage to plants if overused, and will ultimately end up in natural waterways—albeit at a slower pace—further contaminating streams as groundwater.
Deicers or anti-icers aren’t intended to melt everything, but to help the process. These materials are most effective if they are used BEFORE a snowfall, to stop the snow from bonding to pavement thus making its removal quicker and easier to accomplish. Be sparing in how much you use and limit the areas you treat—for example, if you only have one vehicle but your drive/garage is designed for two, perhaps it’s only necessary to address one side of your drive.
When you head to the store to purchase your snow battling paraphernalia, be sure to buy a bag or two of sand as well. If you wake up to the results of an unexpectedly heavy overnight snowfall or a quick thaw/freeze cycle has left areas of your driveway and sidewalks perilously icy—while it won’t melt the ice—sand will help provide some traction for pedestrians.
Since we’re on the topic of snow, if you have an elderly or infirm neighbor, when you are out clearing snow take a few extra moments to clear their drive and sidewalks