Safe Snow Removal Tips

Calgary and Airdrie were hit with snow this week, and with more flurries expected to fall, the chore of snow removal will be a regular one for many. Each year, according to the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, snow shovelling leads to over 11,500 injuries and medical emergencies. Having said that, keep safety a priority this winter while you’re removing ice and snow from your driveway and sidewalk.

  • Before you begin, ensure you are properly hydrated, your muscles are warmed up and that you have the right equipment for the job.
  • Try using an ergonomic shovel, they are generally more lightweight and designed so you don’t have to bend your body as much.
  • Try pushing snow instead of lifting it when you are shovelling. If you need to lift snow, bend with your knees. For big snow dumps, be sure to take breaks so you don’t overexert your body.
  • Avoid dumping snow on sidewalks, streets or covering drains; this will only turn a small problem into an even bigger one.
  • Use calcium chloride instead of salt to de-ice, and never use hot water, it will simply freeze and turn into even more ice.
  • It’s a good idea to keep a small shovel and some kind of traction material (sand, gravel, etc.) in your car in case it gets stuck while you’re out.

If you’re curious about how snow removal works from the City of Calgary’s perspective, once snow falls, it employs a seven-day removal plan. Here are the basics:

  • Sand, salt and plow: the City sands, salts and plows roads and sidewalks based on their priority system.
  • Removal and storage: the snow is removed and then stored in select storage sites.
  • Sidewalk snow removal: The City removes snow from public sidewalks along major roadways, overpasses, and bus pads. Residential and commercial area sidewalks are the responsibility of the property owners.

More information on the City of Calgary snow and ice policy can be found online here. A similar policy is used by the City of Airdrie; you can find more information on that online here.

And consider being a “snow angel” and shovelling a sidewalk or driveway for a neighbour in need. If you think there’s a great snow angel in your community, be sure to nominate them as well. More information on the snow angel program can be found on the City of Calgary website here.