When it comes to weather, it sure has been an unusual year with more than 50 inches of rain so far. Even though rain is in the forecast in the coming days, we all know that much colder temperatures and wintry forms of precipitation are coming. Here are some ways to stay safe and cope with whatever Old Man Winter sends our way.
• Shovel snow before it turns to ice. This lessens the need for deicing chemicals. It is also a great way to work off those extra holiday calories. Before you start, please check out this website on snow shoveling safety at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/snow/snow-shoveling-safety.
• Shovel the snow onto nonpaved surfaces such as garden beds and grassy areas. As the snow melts, it will soak into the soil rather than flow directly into the nearest storm drain or road ditch and then into the nearest stream.
• Sand, sawdust, and kitty litter have their place in providing traction under wintry conditions. After snowmelt, sweep up residues to prevent them from washing into storm drains and road ditches.
• If the sun should make its appearance, let it do its job. The sun is free, environmentally friendly, and I for one welcome its appearance anytime in Ohio!
For those times when you need to salt, use the right S.A.L.T.: the right stuff, in the right amount, in the right location, and at the right time.
The right Stuff. Sodium chloride, what we usually refer to as road salt, only works above 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Under colder conditions you will need to switch to a different ice melting product designed to work at much lower temperatures. Other options may include calcium chloride, potassium chloride and magnesium chloride. All have different temperature ranges under which they are effective. Some of these options are friendlier to your concrete, landscape plants and trees, and pets than others.
The right Amount. Read the directions! Using more product doesn’t improve or speed up the ice melting process. A great way to spread is to figure that a 12 ounce coffee cup full of ice melt product is enough to cover about 10 sidewalk squares. There should be about three inches between granules.
The right Location. According to the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization, one teaspoon of salt pollutes five gallons of water forever. Salt should only be used on your sidewalks and driveways when absolutely necessary. Keep all products away from your flower beds, vegetable gardens, trees, storm drains and road ditches.
The right Time. All of these ice melt products work best when applied before the snow falls or right after snow is removed from your driveway or sidewalk. Do not apply when rain is forecasted as the product will wash away into the nearest storm drain or road ditch and from there to the nearest stream.
To learn more about keeping you and your family safe and Ohio’s waterbodies clean this winter, download this brochure entitled “Fight Snow and Ice, Pollution-Free” at www.mwmo.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/mwmo-smart-salting-2018.pdf.
The latest in conservation programs can be found on our website at www.delawareswcd.org or by calling us at 740-368-1921. Stay tuned for information about our annual tree and shrub sale which will begin in late January. Happy New Year!
Bonnie Dailey is deputy director of the Delaware Soil & Water Conservation District. For information, go to www.delawareswcd.org.