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Should I clear the snow from my path or drive?

Storm Darcy rages on in many parts of the UK today. Driveways and paths up and down the country are covered in snow and ice. But are you liable if you clear paths and someone falls? How do you clear snow safely?

Post updated: February 10th, 2021

2 minute read

how to clear paths

Should I clear snow from my path/drive/outside my house?

There’s a myth that crops up every time snow hits the UK – that doing the neighbourly thing and clearing the pavement outside your house could land you in hot water if someone passing by was to fall. However, the government has made it clear that people walking on snow and ice have a responsibility to be careful themselves so don’t be put off from taking action – so long as you’re not doing anything to make it worse!

How to clear snow

We’ve rounded up the top tips from local government websites and the department of transport on how to clear snow and keep your driveway clear during this cold spell:

  1. Clear snow early in the day. It will be easier to clear when it is loose rather than packed by people compacting it when they walk. Focus on steps as these can be especially dangerous. You can then put down salt in the evening to stop any remaining snow or slush freezing over night.
  2. Use salt or sand. It may sound obvious but DON’T USE WATER to melt the snow. As temperatures dip, chances are the water will refreeze and turn to black ice. Salt or sand should be used to clear the area. Table salt or dishwasher salt will work well – a tablespoon for each square metre you clear should work. Be careful not to spread salt on plants or grass as it may damage them. But do spread it on steps.
  3. Put the snow somewhere sensible. Be careful not to shovel snow near to drains or other paths. Shovel it to the sides of the path you want to create. Meanwhile, if you block other people’s paths in order to clear yours you’re unlikely to win any friends!
  4. Look after yourself. Wrap up warm and wear appropriate footwear. Don’t move too much snow. If your shovel feels too heavy reload a more manageable amount of snow before you lift it. You can get wide lightweight wide bladed shovels from most large supermarkets or hardware stores which may make things easier than a garden shovel.
  5. Think of others. Don’t forget to offer to clear a neighbour’s drive or path, especially if they are elderly or disabled.

If you’re worried about clearing your path or driveway and need some help, you could ask a local teenager who may leap at the opportunity to earn some money.  Or you could also find a local handyman using the Checkatrade finder below. Simply type in “handyman”.

Leave a comment (2)* Required

  1. Mr Simon JamesMr Simon James

    Under English Law you could be liable if you do NOT clear the footpath along the frontage of your property, any obstruction of the footpath is a liability, for example those who have electric cars must not have cables across the footpath when it is being charged, similarly it is illegal to park any vehicle on any part of a footpath unless signposted that you may do so.

  2. Tony WrightTony Wright

    I have a neighbour where water is leaking from somewhere on their property and running onto the pavement and freezing. Are they liable for any resultant accidents?

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