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Ways to Get Help With Snow Removal for Your Elderly Parents

Ways to Get Help With Snow Removal for Your Elderly Parents

5 Ways to Get Help With Snow Removal for Your Elderly Parents

The winter months are tricky to navigate for anyone, but the group of people who faces the most difficulty is unquestionably the elderly. To start, seniors are very susceptible to slipping and falling--one third of people aged 65 and older falls each year, and approximately 31% of those are due to their environment, making it critical that their pathways stay clear of snow and ice. However, seniors can do little on their own to remove the snow gathering outside of their homes. Not only does shoveling cause a severe strain on the back and heart, but the response of seniors’ bodies to cold can be diminished by underlying medical conditions or certain medications, putting them at increased risk for hypothermia; approximately 600 elderly people die in the US each year from hypothermia, so seniors should take great care when exposing themselves to the cold.

The children or family of elderly men and women are usually more than happy to step in and take charge of snow care. But what if you live far away from your ageing parents? How can you ensure that their snow is cleared while they stay safe and warm inside? Fortunately, there are several options.

1. Research volunteer programs from youth groups or places of worship.

Contact your parents’ clergy or research local volunteer groups to find out what assistance is offered to senior citizens and disabled residents who are unable to remove snow. Local charities and church groups offer regular volunteering services aimed at helping older people, and those actions are amplified in the winter. For example, last year in Boston, Project Giving Kids partnered with local non-profit Ethos to encourage local youth and families to clear driveways and walkways for seniors around the city. Programs like these are easy to find in nearly any snow-affected city by searching online.

2. See what’s offered by local government.

Local government offices frequently have special programs targeted towards senior aid. For example, townships throughout Canada offer financial assistance to seniors, providing subsidies to help them pay for snow removal services, or even the opportunity for free snow removal. Further, local Community Councils often have offices dedicated to helping low-income seniors or seniors without family support, which can be called upon to aid with snow removal, as well as to provide other needed support during the winter. Lastly, simply searching a city’s or city government’s website will usually turn up a list of ways to connect with volunteers with elderly residents, such as the City of Chicago Snow Corps and the Service department.

3. Hire a snow removal contractor.

One way to have peace of mind is to outsource snow removal to a trained professional. You can compare the prices and estimates of local snow removal contractors online, and arrange a plan with them before winter starts that will ensure your parents’ paths are cleared after each snowfall. But if you take this route, be careful. It is unfortunately common to see scams and cons taking advantage of the elderly during the winter: someone offers to remove snow from an elderly person’s property, then does the minimal amount of work, and then tries to coerce the resident into paying a lot. Contractors pose a different problem--often they will charge several payments up front to prepare for the winter, and if they know that a more able-bodied individual isn’t around to see their work, they might do a poor job or worse, not show up at all. Before you hire anyone, check the Better Business Bureau or visit its website for reviews of qualified professional snow removal services.

4. Know their neighbors.

If your parents are uncomfortable with receiving aid from volunteers or charities, or if they don’t want a stranger coming to their home, turn to their neighbors for assistance. Offer to pay their neighbor’s teenage son a small fee for a winter’s worth of snow removal. Even if you do choose a different snow removal provider, you should still connect with neighbors--especially if your parents are not so communicative--so that you are up to date on when a storm or bad weather hits, and can make the necessary phone calls or take other relevant measures towards snow removal.

5. Purchase snow-melting mats.

If you don’t want to take the risk that any of the above services might not be efficient or trustworthy, invest in heated snow-melting mats. They are slip proof and can be left out all winter--your parents can turn them on or off from inside when it starts to snow using a remote controller. Further, you won’t have to worry about the risk of ice accumulating from the residual snow that shoveling inevitably leaves behind, as these mats resist ice as well. You or a local volunteer can set these up for your parents before the winter, and rest assured that your parents can walk freely from their home, without slipping, falling, and causing severe damage.

It is a difficult thing to live far from ailing or ageing parents who need your help, especially during the trying cold season. However, there’s no reason you can’t still be there for them and help them with this most crucial winter activity of snow removal. The above options can all be set in motion no matter where you live, and ensure that your parents face one less risk once the snow starts to fall.

Got Gravel? Removing Snow from a Gravel Driveway

Got Gravel? Removing Snow from a Gravel Driveway

Got Gravel? Removing Snow from a Gravel Driveway

Snow removal can take over your winter – it is time-consuming, and can be back-breaking work, depending on the storm. And when your driveway is made of gravel, you must take extra care to make sure that your shoveling doesn’t destroy your driveway – driveway repair can be costly!

The Challenge

The problem is that you want your driveway clear of snow, but you don’t want to clear away your gravel in the process of removing the snow. So the question is: is there a way to get rid of the snow without harming your driveway? In fact, there are several ways.

The Usual Solutions

You can remove snow from gravel driveways in a variety of ways that go far beyond your trusty shovel. Consider the following approaches:

1. A leaf blower or snow blower. A regular leaf blower enables you to remove light, dry snow very easily, which means that there will be storms where a leaf blower is the only tool you’ll need to clear your driveway. For heavier storms, you'll need to get out your snow blower, though this isn't an option for most people who rule these out due to their size, price, and need for fresh gasoline.

2. A regular shovel. When it comes to wet snow, you can’t just blow it away, but with a regular (not snow) shovel, you’ll be able to remove the snow in layers. Stop when you have about an inch of snow left, so that bottom layer of gravel remains where it belongs, on the ground.

3. A rake. A sturdy garden rake can do more than you realize when it comes to driveway snow removal. When the head of a rake is heavy and the tines of a rake are about an inch apart, the rake is an effective tool for breaking up dense, compacted snow. You might take a little gravel with you, but nearly all of it should remain in place on the driveway.

4. Salt. The idea of using salt is to melt as much of the snow that other methods haven’t removed, preventing the formation of ice, and leaving all gravel intact.

Melting Away the Snow for Gravel Driveways

As we said, there are the usual snow removal methods…and then there’s the new, innovative idea of melting the snow before it has a chance to accumulate.

1. Radiant flooring. One way to eliminate the need for snow removal is inground radiant heating, or heated driveways, where the snow basically meets a warm floor and melts. The downside? The cost! Even though the one-time installation is both logical and efficient, underground heating remains a luxury at $14 - $24 per square foot (approximately $201.50 - $345.43 CAD per square meter), at least for the time being. But it holds widespread appeal, especially for those who have not yet laid their gravel driveways (or, more popularly, their concrete driveways).

2. Snow-melting mats. There is also a more affordable option of melting snow before it accumulates, and that's with the help of heated mats. Industrial mats can be laid directly on your gravel driveway for safe and snow- and ice-free driving (the residential mats are meant only for walkways – not for driving on).

How Do Snow-Melting Mats Work?

These mats are made of customized thermoplastic material and generate enough heat to melt snow at a rate of 2 inches (5 cm) per hour (in a substantial snowstorm, it is not uncommon to see snow fall at a rate of 1 - 2 inches/hour (2.54 - 5 cm/hour); when snowfall reaches 3 - 5 inches/hour (7.62 - 12.7 cm/hour), the storm is unusually strong or fast). Because you leave the mats outside all day, every day of the winter, your walkways remain clear throughout the winter.

The mats use water-tight connector cables, which means that they can be interconnected to make a continuous walkway around your house and use only one plug.

The driveway mats cost a fraction of the cost of inground radiant heating and entail even less exertion when compared to shoveling or any of the other methods above. Turn the mats on when a storm begins, and turn it off when snowfall has stopped. Alternatively, an energy efficient thermostat or snow sensor conserves both your electricity and your physical efforts by turning on the mats automatically. Roll up the mats and store them during non-snowy seasons.

Shoveling snow can truly become a thing of the past. Look into the possibilities of Snow-Melting Mats for your driveway today.