Professional Tips for Navigating Snow and Ice

Be safe while de-icing, shoveling and walking.

Treating the ice in front of Kenmore, Jan. 2013.  Photo by Susan Larson.
Treating the ice in front of Kenmore, Jan. 2013. Photo by Susan Larson.
By Sheri Singer, Snow & Ice Management Association (SIMA)

The most U.S. snowfall in 24 hours was in Silver Lake, Colo., on April 15 - 16, 1921.  According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, that location received 75.8 inches in just one day.

While most of us won't experience that much one-day snow, any significant snowfall or ice can create hazardous conditions.

"Venturing out during a significant snowstorm increases the chance of having a car accident or sustaining an injury such as a broken bone from a fall," said Martin B. Tirado, CAE and CEO of SIMA.

Follow these safety tips:


Use the right material. Salt may lose its effectiveness below 20 degrees. If the temperatures in your area are lower than 20 degrees, consider using calcium chloride, magnesium chloride or other blended materials.

Store de-icer materials carefully. Since moisture can cause deicers to lose effectiveness and clump or freeze, be sure to store them in airtight containers in a garage on a high shelf away from young children and pets.

Watch your back. Deicing materials can be heavy, so be careful about how much you try to carry at one time--especially when walking on ice and snow. Use a small container to carry the salt or invest in a spreader.

Facing north. North facing buildings may have more ice and snow accumulation due to less sun exposure.

On the sunny side of the street . If you your home has a lot of shade in the summer from trees or high fences, you probably have more ice melt/refreeze cycles.

 Conditions nice for ice. Areas ripe for melting and refreezing include drainage areas, roof gutters, large piles of snow, overhangs, between parking spaces or buildings, or tree lined walkways.


Stay on top of the snow. To prevent snow and ice from sticking to the sidewalk or street, clear the snow every few inches instead of waiting for the snow to stop falling before you head outdoors

 Take a few minutes to stretch. Shoveling snow is a workout so you need to stretch to help prevent injury and fatigue.

Push don't lift. If you push the snow to the side rather than trying to lift the snow to remove it, you exert less energy placing less stress on your body.

 Drink water. Take frequent breaks and stay hydrated. Drink water as if you were enduring a tough workout at the gym or running five miles. 

Watch the traffic. When shoveling snow near streets, pay attention to the traffic since vehicles may not have good traction in the snow and ice.

Have your cell phone on you so you can make a call in event of an emergency.


Wear proper footwear. Proper footwear for snow & ice has a heavy tread and a flat bottom.

Wear sunglasses so that you can see clearly in the snow.

Wear brightly colored clothes so others can see you.

Make sure you can hear. Avoid listening to music or talking because it may prevent you from hearing oncoming traffic or snow removal equipment.

Walk steps carefully. Grip handrails and plant your feet securely on each step.

Enter a building carefully. Be sure to look at the floor as you enter a building because the floor may be wet with melted snow and ice.

Be careful when carrying packages or a child. Carrying a child or packages distribute your weight unevenly which can cause a slip and fall.

Look up. Be careful about what you walk under.  Injuries also can result from falling snow/ice as it blows, melts, or breaks away from awnings, buildings, etc.

The Snow & Ice Management Association is the nation's trade association for professionals involved with the snow and ice industry, including snow plowing and commercial and residential snow removal for shopping centers, sporting complexes, apartment buildings, offices, schools and universities, hospitals and other community facilities.

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