Most of the United States and all of Canada is subject to winter storms that leave heavy accumulations of snow and ice on sidewalks and driveways. A homeowner is responsible for maintaining walkways in safe conditions.
There are many methods of clearing piles from areas, and the best way will depend on the amount of expected snow, the health condition of the owner, and the amount of money available to buy the equipment.
Snow Shovels and Pushers
The simplest method of clearing snow and ice is with a snow shovel. Shovels are used to lift the snow from the sidewalk and carry it to the side. Throwing the snow is not advised, due to the risk of slipping.
A variation is the pusher, which as the name implies is used to push the snow along the ground. Pushers are designed to hold more snow. This allows for more snow to be pushed to the side, but makes it more difficult to lift.
Shovels are made out of materials like aluminum or plastic. Aluminum will bend after heavy use. Plastic maintains its shape longer, but may crack eventually. A plastic shovel with a steel blade near the base provides the strength to remove most ice.
Removing snow can be very dangerous. Slipping and falling is very likely, and the strain of moving heavy piles of snow can contribute to pulled muscles and heart attacks. If the homeowner has any health concerns, it is better to contract out the work.
Power Snow Removal Equipment
For those climates with an abundance of snow, power snow blowers or throwers can be purchased. Blowers are available in both gas and electric models.
Gas blowers are more powerful, but have the issues of starting, filling with gas and maintaining parts that are familiar to those that own gas lawn mowers.
Electric models operate from a cord, so there needs to be enough cord to reach all areas, and care has to be taken to make sure the cord does not get eaten by the machine.
Both models can be heavy, and do not discriminate between snow and the grass or ground cover underneath. Blowers are difficult to use during strong winds, which will blow snow back onto the driveway or operator.
Salt and Chemical Ice-Melters
One method of dealing with minor snowfalls or ice is to use rock salt or chemical ice- melters. Ice-melters are considerably more expensive than salt, but are cleaner and do less damage to plants. Ice-melters work can up to 20 degrees below zero or more.
Spreading salt is much easier than shoveling or operating a blower, but will not clear more than a half inch of snow. The best idea is to clear the area after a snowfall, and then apply a layer of a melter to remove the ice and keep the walkway clear.
Winter can be a great time, if caution is observed in making travel safe for everyone.