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Avoid serious injury by de-icing walkways
US NEWS WEA-STORM 4 FT
Sleet and freezing temperatures can collide to leave a thin, yet dangerous layer of ice on your stoop and driveway. Shoveling off the slush before it freezes or using abrasives like gravel can help keep you from falling.

While we may not be waking up to several inches of snow this morning, we are likely dealing with the slippery aftermath of a wintry mix.

Sleet and freezing temperatures can collide to leave a thin, yet dangerous layer of ice on your stoop and driveway.

There are several methods of removing ice or properly preventing it from the onset.

Your best bet is to shovel off slush before it has a chance to freeze in the first place. Not in the best shape? Pay an eager neighbor kid to do it.

If the ice forms in the middle of the night, shoveling may not be an option. Melting the ice becomes the next best plan of action.

While some prefer the most common method used by the Department of Transportation — salt — others may want to steer clear. Sodium chloride, which may contain cyanide, and potassium chloride are best to avoid.

A better choice? Calcium chloride. Less goes farther and it will continue to melt ice even when the temperature is between 0 and 25 degrees, according to consumerist.com. You can also find it at most hardware stores.

But, says thedailygreen.com, it is still not ideal because runoff "increases algae growth, which clogs waterways.

Other problems with using rock salts include:

Products that contain nitrogen-heavy urea, which will also end up in storm drains and streams once the ice begins to melt.

Salts can become lodged in the paws of pets and result in chemical burns.

According to diylife.com, salt can also attract wildlife, which may get hit by cars while licking up the nutrients.

Some salts can leach heavy metals into water supplies.

Too much salt can build up in the soil, much like chemical fertilizers, and prevent plants from absorbing moisture and nutrients.

Michael Wheeler, extension coordinator for the UGA Cooperative Extension in Hall County doesn’t think homeowners in the South should worry too much about runoff from rock salt.

"Just because of the limited number of times we have to use de-icers in a winter season," said Wheeler. "But it is conceivable to say that enough concentration of the salt could cause problems in soils and waterways."

According to Purdue Extension, said Wheeler, calcium magnesium acetate and magnesium chloride are safe to use around plants.

"From what I understand, incorporating abrasive material like gravel also helps reduce the need to use so much salt as well."

Kitty litter and sawdust, or woodchips, are commonly used for traction as well but when the temps rise, you may have a big mess left on the driveway.

Scattering sand or birdseed may also help keep your feet on the slippery stuff. Bonus: The birds get a meal while cleaning your driveway.

Regardless of how you remove the ice, always wear shoes with good tread and work gloves to protect your hands.

Wash the salt off your hands to avoid burns and dust off your boots; you don’t want to track the salts indoors.

Don’t overuse salt. Dumping on more won’t melt the ice any faster.

Don’t over extend yourself with the shovel. Work slow and steady.

And if all else fails, stay inside with a hot cup of tea until summer.

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