Winter is here and depending on the groundhog that you listen to, may be here for a little while longer. Either way, it’s best to go through the remainder of Winter being safe and sustainable!

When ice and snow take over, moving around can be difficult. (Look at what happened to our friend the bear up there!) Salt is a great option for melting ice and snow. However, it is harmful to the environment as well as pets. For pets, salt left on surfaces can lead to cracking on their paws. The ice-salt mix will eventually melt and drain into groundwater and streams which is harmful to aquatic life. In addition, salt eats into concrete and stone surfaces and even can harm vegetation including lawns and gardens.

What to do? Salt-free deicers are eco-friendly and offer a non-toxic alternative to salt. These products are “pet-safe” and are regularly found at hardware/home stores as well as online. These products are a safer alternative to normal rock salt and are considered more effective.

Do you love pickles? They are not good just for eating! Pickle brine has become a regular, safe alternative to the use of salt. Pickle brine can melt ice in temperatures as low as -6 degrees. (Let’s hope we don’t have those temperatures this season!) When applied prior to a storm, pickle brine prevents ice and snow from freezing onto pavement which makes removal easier. If you don’t have an excess of pickle brine on hand, you can make your own by combining 2 pounds of salt with a gallon of water. Beet juice can also be added to this mixture for an added effectiveness.

Say cheese! Wisconsin uses cheese brine on their roadways as an ecofriendly and effective method for melting ice and snow. Cheese brine will keep roadways ice-free for up to -21 degrees. Unfortunately, Wisconsin residents have complained that the application of the cheese brine leaves an unwanted “stinky cheese” odor.

We’ve all been there, you’re in a hurry to get out the door, you get into your car and realize that you have a frozen windshield. Be prepared. Develop an ecofriendly solution to de-ice your windshield. We’ve got the recipe! Simply mix 3 cups of white vinegar with warm water and place into a spray bottle. Spray the solution generously on your windshield for quick and effective results.

Since we are on the subject of driving, let’s jump into some winter driving safety. So we helped you make sure your windshield is clear, let’s focus on the rest. It is important to obey the speed limit and most importantly speed restrictions in inclement weather. With ice, snow or rain, please make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to maneuver and stop in these poor driving conditions. New Jersey law requires that snow be removed from the top of vehicles prior to driving. Snow flying off of a vehicle can hinder another driver’s ability to see which can lead to additional dangers on the road. Especially in hazardous conditions, remember, Heads Up, Phones Down- that call, text or e-mail can wait!

On a cold day, most people bundle up when leaving the house. For everyone, it is important to make sure that you have an unobstructed view of what’s in front of you and around you. Pedestrians should be sure to use crosswalk, especially when roads are snow covered. It is more likely that a driver would anticipate a pedestrian in a crosswalk than in other parts of the road. When it’s cold out, many pedestrians are tempted to walk against the light- play it safe and wait for the walk sign. And just like drivers, Heads Up, Phones Down- distracted walking is an equally dangerous situation!

Bicyclists, don’t think we forgot about you. Be sure to take extra precautions for safety in the winter. Remember to make yourselves visible to motorists by wearing lighter, reflective clothing. It is also recommended to install a front light on your bicycle to improve visibility in addition to a rear light to keep the bicycle visible to motorists. Be sure to check your tire pressure regularly since temperature changes can also affect your tire pressure. If conditions are ice or there is heavy snow on the ground, it is better to play it safe and wait until paths and roads are clear before traveling.

Remember for the remainder of Winter, play it safe. Spring will be here soon. And while you’re at it, mark your calendars for the HCIA’s Earth Day 5K Run/Walk and Festival being held on Saturday, April 27th at Liberty State Park in Jersey City! See you there!


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