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Winter: The Slippery Season

It's a clear, crisp winter morning. You're running a little late as you grab a coat and your car keys and head out the door, rushing down the path to the driveway. All of a sudden …wham! Your feet slip out from under you and you land squarely on your tailbone in the middle of the front yard.

At best, winter slips and falls are merely embarrassing; at worst, they can result in serious injury.

How can you keep this from happening? Start with a visit to the paint department at your local hardware store. "Lots of people use paint-based products like Quikrete's Anti-Skid Texture Coating or Skid-Not Paint, two acrylic latex paints with a fine aggregate added to them to create a slightly rough surface," says David Scott, outdoor power equipment specialist at Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse in Medford. "They can be tinted to almost any shade, and are used primarily on concrete walkways, where you don't mind a bit of color."

Another popular product - particularly for use on steps - is 3M's Anti-Skid Tape. The tape has an adhesive backing, but Daun Clasen, assistant manager at Hubbard's Ace Home Center on South Pacific Highway, cautions that the adhesive on the tape tends to fail when applied in cold weather. "If you're going to be applying the tape during the winter, be sure to ask your salesperson to recommend an adhesive that will set in cold weather to use along with the tape," says Clasen. "You don't want your anti-skid tape to slip out from under you because the adhesive failed."

What if you don't want to change the appearance of your walkways and steps with paint or anti-skid tape? Not to worry, says Clasen. "Tread Tex and Krylon both make a clear, skid-resistant spray that can be used on most surfaces, including concrete, wood and metal. The sprays dry quickly, generally within 30 minutes." Clasen says she likes these best - both for ease of use and because they're invisible after application.

The old, traditional ice-proofing measures work well, too. A bag of sand kept near the front door can be sprinkled on walkways to provide that extra bit of traction on icy mornings. "Rock salt is another good choice," says Scott. "It not only provides traction like sand, but will also melt ice and snow from the surfaces it's applied to. Salt will discolor wood, though, so you'll want to keep it off of your wooden decks and steps."

For those interested in a gentler alternative to rock salt, there are a number of options available, including Safe Paw Ice Melter or Simple Solution Ice Melting Pellets. These products are 100 percent salt-free, non-toxic, and safe for pets and plants. Both work the same way as rock salt; melting ice and providing traction on cold, winter mornings.

Whether you're interested in a low-cost temporary solution, or want to take on an outdoor winter project, there are a number of great alternatives available to make sure your steps, paths and walkways stay safe during the slippery season!