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When you think of the winter season, the optimizer in you may think of all the fun snowy activities—building snow forts, going sledding with the kids and making snow angels. But, the pessimist in you might think of the very un-fun parts of winter—freezing temperatures, heavy snow shoveling and ice scraping in the early hours of the morning.
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There’s also extremely slick ice, which becomes a potential threat the moment you step out of your door. Beyond being painful—and slightly embarrassing—a bad slip and fall on ice can be dangerous and may cause serious injury.
When you know there’s a chance for ice to form in your area, there’s plenty you can do to prepare ahead of time and use to combat ice around your front door, driveway, deck and other walkways around the house. From good winter boots to heavy-duty doormats, here’s what we recommend for more traction outside of your home during winter.
Related: Big storm to wallop US with snow, floods, possible tornadoes
More: 6 products to help you keep your roof clear of ice and snow
Use non-slip treads on your stairs
One way to keep your outside stairs from becoming a slippery hazard is installing non-slip stair treads for some extra traction in the winter. Stair treads can really help to provide some necessary grip when moving up and down the stairs, especially in wet and wintery conditions. While it’s not completely fool-proof against ice, it can surely help.
These waterproof, pre-cut slip guards from Amazon feature are National Flooring Safety Institute (NFSI)-certified to provide high traction, featuring a commercial-grade adhesive and a coarse top layer to help improve grip in slippery conditions. The 12-pack of slip guard stair tape comes in multiple neutral colors to match your stairs and even features a black and yellow hazard color if you’re in need of a highly visible option. You can use these slip guards anywhere inside or outdoors, such as your wooden stairs, patio steps, docks or ladders.
Get the Slip Guard 12-Pack Stair Tape from Amazon for $15.95
Keep doormats at every entrance
To further minimize the risk of slipping and falling, you can keep weather-proof doormats outside every entrance to your house including your front door, garage door, back or side entrances. With a doormat, your first step outside of your home won’t be as slippery or unpredictable. Having extra traction with a doormat can help you get your bearings before walking through snow or ice outside.
These top-rated doormats from Amazon are a great heavy-duty option that should stay right in place when you’re entering and exiting your home. Amazon reviewers love how durable and thick these mats are, using them for everything from doormats to dog food mats.
Get the Sierra Concepts Ribbed Black Doormat (Pack of 2) from Amazon for $24.98
Invest in good winter boots
No matter if you live in a region that consistently braves snowstorms or one that gets an occasional dusting of snow, having a good pair of winter boots is truly useful. Especially if you’re a frequent traveler or road-tripper, trusty winter boots can get you through some snowy situations.
One important quality of winter boots is their traction ability. With good winter boots, you won’t be able to avoid ice entirely, but they will help to grip the ground with more stability and allow you to move more freely.
For women’s winter boots, we found the Sorel Wome’s Caribou boots to knock it out of the park when it came to providing traction on ice. For men’s winter boots, the equivalent Sorel Men’s Caribou boots couldn’t be beaten with similarly impressive foot traction.
Beyond winter boots, you can also try something like the Stabilicers Walk Traction Cleat, which a Reviewed writer recently put to the test. These cleats can cut through thick snow, slush and ice to help you feel more stable while walking around in wintery weather. They can be especially useful to those who use ankle foot orthoses (AFOs)—as Reviewed’s tester does—or similar products that possibly aren’t compatible with winter boots. Our tester noted that they felt like they were walking on solid ground through wintery conditions and never slipped or slid along their journey.
Use ice melt wisely
Ice melt is a tried and true solution for keeping your driveway and pathways clear of slippery ice.
If you don’t use ice melt often, you may not know that ice melt can potentially cause damage to your property or plants. What’s more, some ice melt ingredients aren’t pet-safe, causing irritation on their paws or digestive issues if ingested. For this reason, it’s best to use the right kind of ice melt—and to use it strategically.
First, be sure to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application when using ice melt. Use the proper amount and spread it out evenly. Be careful as to not spread any ice melt over plants or grass, as chlorine-based ice melts may be harmful to your landscape.
Next, use a quality ice melt product. We had a great experience using Blue Heat Snow and Ice Melter Rock Salt. While it takes the ice melt a little while to get started, it has a lot of penetrative power—individual granules created deep fissures into a solid block of ice in our testing, making it much easier to break apart and shovel aside.
If you’re using ice melt on a concrete driveway or path, be sure your concrete is properly sealed with a protective sealant, as ice melt can be corrosive and damaging to the concrete’s integrity.
For pet-safe ice melt, we found the SafePaw Ice Melt to fare well when we tested it against real ice in our labs. The product is said to be 100% salt-free and chloride-free which won’t damage your concrete driveways.
How to de-ice if you don’t have any ice melt
If you’re caught with ice around your home and don’t have any ice melt on hand, there are a few DIY solutions you can try with products you probably already have at home.
The Reviewed team set up a backyard ice rink to test sand and kitty litter against ice melt. The clear winner? Sand, which even beat our Blue Heat ice melt in terms of creating the best traction. Kitty litter, on the other hand, didn’t do much in providing traction.
If you don’t have sand at the ready, you may be able to use table salt you already have at home. We took to our labs to test the impact of table salt on ice, finding that it really does melt your outdoor ice to some degree—it’s just not as powerful as a commercial rock salt product. With that in mind, this quick trick would be most useful for small, thin layers of ice such as a small walkway or your home’s front steps. Keep in mind that table salt will only work in temperatures down to about -6°F, so anything colder may call for a quick run to the store for real ice melt.
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