Another winter season of clearing the beautiful, yet treacherous, snow is upon us. While it is very nice to look at from the comfort of your living room, sooner or later we must venture outside.
Unfortunately, snow can get packed down from walking or driving on is as slick as ice and can be dangerous. To ensure we can get around safely in such conditions, it is crucial to remove the snow from sidewalks and driveways as soon as possible. What many people don't realize though, is that there are lots of different factors to know when approaching snow removal this winter.
Shoveling Snow by Hand
If you're going to tough it out this winter and attempt snow removal the old-fashioned way - by hand shoveling - you need to follow these guidelines.
You, or whoever is shoveling, should first be sure to dress appropriately for the outside conditions. If there's snow, it's probably fairly cold and wet. Layer your clothing so that when you start shoveling and get warmer, you can shed layers.
Make sure you wear a good pair of waterproof boots with more than one pair of socks. How many pairs will depend on the insulation quality of your boots. The soles of the boots should have a good traction to minimize slipping and sliding.
A good hat and gloves help keep body heat in and ears from freezing. The gloves should have a liner in them to keep your fingers warm and should be waterproof to help prevent moisture.
Use the Right Shovel
If you go shopping for a shovel this winter, you will find various sizes and shapes. However, what really matters when it comes to snow removal is testing the shovel in your hands. It should feel comfortable to hold and be appropriately sized to your frame.
The scoop part of the shovel will either be plastic or metal. The metal scoops will last longer because they are stronger, but they do make the shovel a bit heavier. Yes, the larger the scoop on the shovel means the more snow you can pick up or push away. However, your size and strength are ultimately the most important factor in determining the shovel that's right for you.
Know Your Snow
Some snow has very little moisture in it, which means it doesn't pack well and is of a lightweight, fluffy texture. This type of snow is easier to shovel because of the weight and loose nature of the flakes. The downside to this snow is that the wind can blow it right back onto the sidewalk you just shoveled.
There is also the wet, heavy snow that makes great snowballs and snowmen. The downside to this snow is that the moisture makes it much heavier to shovel. This snow is not going to blow as much as a lighter snow, but it can be a work out when shoveling it away this winter. In fact, it can cause you to pull muscles if you're not careful.
Shoveling snow can be a strenuous activity, so know your limits. Staying outside in the cold conditions and pushing yourself to finish the job can be hazardous to your health, especially if you're not used to working in the cold or doing much physical labor. Take regular breaks to go inside and warm up, and drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.
This requires less physical exertion and usually can be done in about half the time, which minimizes your exposure to the cold and discomfort of the harsh winter weather.
Just like shovel-based snow removal, the same apparel is necessary to stay as warm and as comfortable as possible.
Prep Your Machine
The snow blower (or snow thrower) is the most important part of snow removal. It's important to remember that just because it ran great last year doesn't mean it will run great this year.
A good service is required upon completion of the snow season to prepare for next year's winter. When the snowy season is over, you should be sure to thoroughly clean the snow blower, making sure sure all snow residue is removed from the machine. An oil change and fresh gas with an added preservative will help start your next snow season off right.
If you didn't take the appropriate measures last season, that's OK. Try to do so this season before you need to bust out your machine. And if possible, try to test a small patch of snow to make sure it works properly before tackling large driveways with a potentially busted machine.
Moving the Snow
Now that you have decided which method of snow removal is right for you, you have to figure out where to put it all. The direction you move the snow depends on the movement of the wind, the area is being cleared, and the method you chose.
If you're using a snow blower, start in the middle of the area and throw the snow to the right going down and to the left coming back. With each pass, you get closer to the outer edge of the driveway and the snow is distributed evenly on both sides.
Shoveling by hand is similar; clear a path down the center and work toward the edges. Oftentimes you can push the majority of the snow using this method, making it less strenuous than lifting. However, the deeper the snow, the less likely you will be able to simply push it away.