How To: Clear Your Sidewalks

As a pedestrian or as a driver, negotiating Calgary streets right now is a tricky proposition. Brought about by a chilly December followed by a relatively balmy January, many streets and sidewalks around the city bear a striking resemblance to skating rinks. The cause of much ire and even injury amongst residents, CREB® has compiled a few helpful suggestions in an attempt to break the ice.

Add a Pinch of Salt
Available for free at most Calgary fire halls and roads depots, as well as for purchase at countless stores around the city, spreading a little salt or other ice melt product on your sidewalk can yield big results. By creating a solution that has a lower freezing point than water, the salt loosens the ice’s formidable grip on the sidewalk. Rather than using pure salt – the same type found in your kitchen – environmentalists recommend using magnesium chloride, which will lessen harm to your lawn. While regular salt can only realistically melt ice down to -9 C, calcium chloride can help keep roads and sidewalks ice free down to -29 C. Whatever your chosen method, sprinkle a thin layer on your sidewalk, then wait for science to do its thing. In order to increase traction and prevent accidents, mix in a little kitty litter.

Beat Vigorously
Once you’ve engaged a little chemistry, now comes the difficult part. Depending on just how much snow and ice have accumulated on your sidewalk, your weapon of choice could be a shovel or sledgehammer. Taking care to secure your footing (MEC offers a wide range of tractionenhancing footwear), ice can be broken into chunks and piled in a place where it won’t melt and refreeze on your sidewalk. To further increase traction, microwaving sand in a microwave-safe container and spreading it while it is still warm will help create a gritty top layer. Residents should also be aware when shovelling snow from private driveways and sidewalks that the snow cannot be shovelled into the street or onto a City sidewalk. While waiting for a warm day can also help make things easier, property owners are responsible for removing ice and snow from city sidewalks and pathways adjacent to their property within 24 hours after the snow has stopped falling.

Finish With an Ounce of Prevention
As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And when it comes to the grueling task of chipping ice from your sidewalk on a chilly January morning, anything that can prevent such actions should be welcomed with open arms. Obviously the best way to prevent ice from forming is to clear snow from your sidewalks before it freezes. Although it may seem silly, you should stretch your muscles before you start shovelling. A walk around the block is a good way to start. When purchasing a shovel, look for one with a curved, ergonomic handle to lessen pressure on your back. Studies have shown that nearly 12,000 people are treated in emergency room each year for snow shovelling injuries in the United States. When removing snow, don’t
pick up too much at once. Perhaps most importantly, lift with your legs bent, not your back. Keep your back straight. By bending and “sitting” into the movement, you’ll keep your spine upright and less stressed. Your shoulders, torso and thighs can do the work for you.

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