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Outdoor property safety - part 1

Outdoor property safety revolves around shoveling snow and clearing ice. It's a fact of life in a snowy winter climate - there's no getting away from it.

What does this mean to you?

Well, it means you get to clear snow and ice from steps, sidewalks, driveways and other nooks and crannies around your home. Now that's just around your house but there are other areas that you will also need to keep clear of snow and ice too. These other areas that might be close to your house and perhaps, on or near your property line.

You might be wondering what an outdoor property safety checklist includes. There's quite a few things you need to be aware of so I've divided the information in two parts.

Outdoor property safety - part 1 includes:

  • Mail boxes
  • Public sidewalks
  • Storm drains
  • Fire hydrants
  • Gas or Utilities meter.

Outdoor property safety - part 2 includes: 

  • Garbage and recycling areas
  • Snowfalls and garbage collection
  • Road clearing and garbage collection
  • Recycling tips for better outdoor property safety.

Mail boxes

Mail boxes are located as close to the street as possible for easy access and delivery. Since the mail person is walking his/her route, clearing a pathway to the mail box will certainly help them maintain their schedules. This also means you'll get your snail mail in a timely manner too.

Public sidewalks

Depending on your local city bylaws, you might also be required to clear the public sidewalks surrounding your house. If you don't, then lucky you! If you do, then sidewalks have to be cleared of snow and ice within 24 to 36 hours after the end of a snowfall.

Be winter smart in this regard as it's a good neighbourly thing to do. It's also the right thing to do. There are lots of people who walk during winter including me and I, for one really appreciate someone who clears their sidewalk promptly.

FYI tip 1:

Here's something else to consider about not clearing sidewalks; you could be fined. Again, this depends on the local city bylaws but consistently failing to do so throughout the winter season may result in a fine of several hundred dollars. Better that money stays in your pocket so it "pays" to be a good neighbour (sorry, couldn't resist that one!).

Now if you are unable to for health reasons, there may be some local social service agencies who can help organize this service for you. Perhaps a neighbour might help; otherwise, you'll have to pay someone to do the snow clearing for you.

FYI tip 2:

You could also be held liable for any injury that someone may suffer by not clearing the snow on your property. This is the reason why you have liability insurance as part of your house insurance just in case this situation might arise.

Storm drains

Even though storm drains are the responsibility of your local city govenment, it would pay you to keep an eye on any nearby storm drains that might affect your home. Quite likely, over winter, the grates become clogged with ice and debris. As the amount piles up blocking the storm drain, it creates a blockage and then the water starts to back up. Over time, that puddle of water evolves into a large lake that may flood your property in some way. 

Lucky us! We have two storm drains as we have a corner property. One in particular which is in front of our driveway that causes a huge "lake" to form if it becomes blocked with ice buildup and debris. It ends up flooding the street. We monitor both carefully after each snowfall and get out with a shovel and ice pick.

Fire hydrants

Again, fire hydrants are the local government's responsibility as they are situated on city-owned land. However, there's usually an unwritten neighbourhood "law" that if it's near your property, keeping it clear of snow buildup is expected and encouraged. Not only do we have two storm drains but we also have a fire hydrant nearby too! Clearing this area is always a top priority for us and our neighbours.

You never know when you or one of your neighbours may need this kind of help. Having the area cleared of snow and completely accessible to the street will help the fire department. Fires can happen at any time and you want the fire department to do their job as fast, safe and as efficiently as possible - since it could be your house!

Think of it as doing a community service for your neighbourhood. 

Gas and Utilities meter

The meter reader may come once a month or every two months over the winter. For the most part, meters tend to be on the side of a house. If it's on the driveway side, then you'll be dealing with clearing the snow anyway. If not, then you'll need to clear another path to the meter.  Ours is at the side but at the back of our building so we have to do a bit more shovelling to clear it as it's beyond our main door. 

Now on to part 2 of Outdoor Property Safety.

Return to Winter Safety from Outdoor Property Safety - part 1

Return to Winter Living Advisor from Outdoor Property Safety