Now that cold weather is stretching across much of the country, more people are concerning themselves with maintaining safety as snow begins to fall. Ice is a primary concern in many regions where temperatures are cold enough to keep it intact throughout the winter. Whether you have an elderly individual living in your household, pets or young children, there's never a bad time to revamp your winter safety strategy around the house. Here are some tips on how to make the upcoming season safer for your family.

Tire tracks snow melting in a driveway

1. Opt for driveway heating.
Instead of regularly salting your driveway for hours in a blizzard, consider the benefits of radiant heat. By installing a heating system under your driveway, you can ensure you never have to combat ice or worry about falling as you walk out to your car or the mailbox. As an added bonus, you'll leave your neighbors wondering how you keep your driveway so clean!

2. Read the labels.
When you decide to de-ice your steps and sidewalks, be sure to read the labels for information on the ingredients in the ice melt you choose. Many products contain harmful chemicals that not only wear away at your stairs and sidewalks, but pose a threat to your household as well. Specifically, dogs and cats may find themselves suffering from pain on their paws when forced to walk over toxic de-icer. The chemicals may also cause lasting damage on your lawn.

"Once the salt is applied it stays in the soil," Horticulturalist Tim Grissom told WRAL-TV. "You still have to watch out and not put the calcium chloride directly on plants because the material heats up when it hits moisture, raising the temperatures from below freezing to around 70 or 80 Fahrenheit. That damages the roots."

3. Play it safe with sand.
One of the biggest criticisms of de-icer is that it causes the initial ice to melt, then refreeze once the temperatures drop. To eliminate the moisture, you might want to consider putting down sand instead. While it can create a bit of a mess, it's worth it to eliminate the danger of slips and falls.

4. Create traction.
In addition to putting down sand or another material to eliminate ice, The Daily Green recommends making traction a priority. This can ensure it's easier to walk on potentially icy surfaces, even after putting down de-icer. Consider using bird seed as a way to develop traction underfoot and make it simpler for your family members to get around.

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