After watching Winter Storm Helena batter New York with piles of snow, which then turned to ice (which we’re still dealing with), the personal injury attorneys at Palermo Tuohy Bruno want to discuss the best way to deice your driveway. The last thing you want is for you or someone else to have a slip and fall accident on your property.
It’s not just about throwing salt or any ice melt all around your driveway – that may not fully do the trick. There’s a science to it. ConsumerReports does a great job discussing how to best deice your driveway as well as safety measures to take with these deicing chemicals.
Here are 5 steps to making the best of the salt or ice melt you use on your driveway:
Get rid of all the snow first. This may seem obvious, but some don’t realize how important it is to really get away all the snow before starting the deicing process.
Ice evenly and correctly. If you have one of those wheeled or handheld spreaders, make it easy on yourself and use that. It’ll evenly coat the ground with salt or ice melt, and it’ll take less time than salting your driveway by hand. Make sure you rinse it in between each use. If you don’t have a spreader, you’ll have throw salt or ice melt around your driveway by hand. You can use a cup instead. Make sure you wear gloves. Or place the salt in a bucket so you don’t have to carry around a heavy bag of salt/ice melt. Make sure you spread it evenly. If you mess up and place too much salt in one area, use a broom or water to spread it out. Remember, snow doesn’t melt ice. Snow lowers the boiling point of water. And since most ice has a thin layer of water on it, the salt mixed in with the water causes a chain reaction that aids in the ice melting even in colder temperatures. There are some experts that recommend salting your driveway before a snowstorm even hits.
Don’t damage your driveway with an ice melt. When concrete, especially, is subjected to too much salt or ice melt, the thawing/freezing process can damage it. *If your concrete is less than 12 months old, avoid using salt or ice melt. It can weaken the concrete and make it susceptible to future damage. If this is the case and you want to add traction to your driveway, use sand, kitty litter, or sawdust. Other surfaces can be damaged by too much salt or ice melt as well. Avoid getting any on plants or your lawn. Make sure you read and follow the instructions on whatever type of salt or ice melt you’re using before going out and deicing your driveway. A damaged driveway can be just as dangerous as a slippery one.
Protect your loved ones. If your child happens to ingest any salt, do not induce vomiting. This is not a good idea according to medical director of the South Texas Poison Center, Miguel Fernández, M.D. “Whatever is noxious going in, could be noxious coming up,” says Doctor Fernández, M.D. Instead of inducing vomiting, call the American Association of Poison Control Centers (800-222-1222) right away before turning to the Emergency Room. The American Association of Poison Control Center is equipped to handle these types of accidents.
Protect your pets as well. It might be a good idea to get “pet safe” ice melt. But even so, these types of ice melts aren’t guaranteed to keep your pet safe. If your animal will allow it, place those little animal boots over their paws so they’re not stepping on ice melt or salt. “Always wipe your dog’s paws with a moist towel after walking outside on snowy days, says Louise Murray, D.V.M., vice president of the ASPCA Animal Hospital.” If you’re capable, trim the hair between your dog’s toes to prevent serious mineral buildup, which can be painful for them. Make sure you don’t let them lick any salt/ice melt or drink out of any puddles. Even tiny amounts of 100% sodium chloride can be deadly for dogs. “If your pet ingests ice melt, contact your vet or the Pet Poison Helpline (800-213-6680; $39 per incident), or the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435; $65 per incident).”