Snow clearance advice

Snow clearance advice from Northumberland County Council

Many people believe if they clear snow or ice from outside their property or from the public footpath they could be sued if a member of the public were to slip on the area cleared. It is the view of Northumberland County Council that if people clear ice or snow from a public footpath in a safe and correct manner as outlined in the Governments snow code then it is very difficult to envisage circumstances where a court would award damages against them for a slip.

The following advice is from the Governments Snow Code:

Moving Snow
Think about where you are going to put it, make sure it will not cause problems. Ensure you don’t block other people’s paths or the road and do not pile snow over gullies or drains as this may stop melting snow draining away.

Use Salt or Sand
Be careful not to make pathways and pavements more dangerous by causing them to refreeze. Do not use hot water, this may melt the snow and ice but is very likely to refreeze turning to black ice causing more risk than it prevents as black ice increases the risk of injury because it is invisible and very slippery.

Repeat Salt Spreading
Remember salt can be washed away you may need to repeat salt spreading. You can use ordinary table salt or dishwasher salt – a tablespoon per square meter cleared should work. If you don’t have enough salt then use a little sand or ash, these won’t stop the freezing as well as salt but will provide grip underfoot. Clear Snow & Ice Early in the Day it’s much easier to clear fresh snow than hard packed snow, so if possible start early in the morning. If you remove the top layer of snow in the morning, any sunshine during the day will help melt any ice beneath. You can prevent the area from refreezing overnight by spreading some salt on the area you have cleared before nightfall.

Prevent Slips
Pay extra attention to steps and steep slopes – to clear snow & ice from these areas additional salt should be used to reduce the risk of slipping.

Take Care
Take care when you’re moving snow, first clear a small path down the middle of the area to be cleared, so you have a safe surface to walk on. Then shovel the snow from the centre to of the path to the sides. Use common sense and don’t do anything which would be likely to cause harm to others.

Wrap up wear suitable warm clothing make yourself visible and wear footwear that provides a good grip.

Be a Good Neighbour
Some people may be unable to clear their paths, if your neighbour has difficulty getting in and out of their home offer to clear their path for them. Check that elderly or disabled neighbours are alright in cold weather. These are king and practical steps that most of us can take during cold weather.