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Snow code

There is no law stopping you from clearing snow and ice on the pavement outside your home or from public spaces. It is unlikely that you will be sued or held legally responsible for any injuries on the pavement if you have cleared it carefully. To help you clear snow and ice safely the Department of Infrastructure have produced this snow code.

The snow code – tips on clearing snow and ice from pavements or public spaces

If you clear snow and ice, be careful, think about your own safety, choose footwear that provides a good grip and don’t accidently make the pathways more dangerous. Don’t be put off clearing paths because you’re afraid someone will get injured. Remember, people walking on snow and ice have responsibility to be careful themselves. Follow the advice below to make sure you clear the pathway safely and effectively.

Offer to clear your neighbour’s paths

If your neighbour has difficulty getting in and out of their home, offer to clear snow and ice around their property as well. Check that any elderly, disabled or vulnerable neighbours are alright in the cold weather. If you are worried about them, contact the authorities.

Prepare by getting salt free from your Civic Amenity site

You can get rock salt from your Civic Amenity site free¹ and whilst you are there, why not get some for a neighbour who may not be able to get to the Civic Amenity site themselves. You won’t need a great deal. Please don’t wait until it snows before collecting your salt, it will keep for years if stored in a dry place.

Clear the snow or ice early in the day

It is easier to move fresh, loose snow rather than hard snow that has packed together from people walking on it; so if possible, start removing the snow and ice as quickly as possible after it has fallen. If you remove the top layer of snow, any sunshine will help melt any ice beneath. Lightly cover the path with rock salt to stop it re-freezing.

Prevent slips

Pay extra attention to clear snow and ice from steps and steep pathways – you might need to use slightly more salt on these areas.

Use salt or sand – not water

If you use water to melt the snow, it may re-freeze and turn to black ice. Black ice increases the risk of injuries as it is invisible and very slippery. You can reduce the risk of black ice by spreading some salt on the area you have cleared. You can get rock salt free from the Civic Amenity sites or you can use ordinary table or dishwasher salt – a tablespoon for each square metre you clear should work; avoid spreading salt on plants or grass as it may cause them damage.

If you don’t have enough salt, you can also use sand. This won’t stop the path icing over but should improve grip under foot.

Take care where you move the snow

If you are shovelling snow, think carefully about where you are going to put it, so that it doesn’t block people’s paths or drains or simply shift the problem and create a risk elsewhere. Make sure it will not cause problems when it melts. Pilling snow over gullies or drains may stop melting snow from draining away and allow it to refreeze. Make sure when shovelling snow that you make a path down the middle of the area to be cleared first, so you have a safe surface to walk on. Then shovel the snow from the centre of the path to the sides.

Use the salt boxes on the road side

Salt boxes have been placed by the road side in known problem areas. It is there for you to use should you or your community need it, feel free to put it on ice or snow on the highway or pavement. But please, if you want rock salt for your home please go to the Civic Amenity site.

When crossing the highway on foot

Please be aware that vehicles may not have good visibility and may take longer to stop.

Contacts

  • Customer Services +44 1624 850000
  • Emergency help Line only (24 hour) +44 1624 672000

¹Free for domestic use, a charge will apply for commercial use. Commercial users can get salt from the DOI’s Ellerslie or Glen Duff depots or you can arrange to have it delivered in bulk but please do not wait until it snows.

Footnote: The snow code is intended as a practical guide to clearing snow and ice from public areas and all references in the code to paths / pathways relate to public paths. In respect of your own property you owe visitors a duty to take reasonable care to ensure that they are reasonably safe. So if you know that someone is likely to walk up your garden path, and you know it’s slippery, you must take reasonable steps to make it safe.

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