Tips of the Month

Removing Snow and Ice at Home

Removing snow and ice from sidewalks, driveways, and other hard surfaces around our homes is important to the health and safety of family, friends, and our larger community. However, we must also be aware of the impact that popular options, like salt, have on our environment. The City's Committee for a Better Environment (CBE) recommends the following alternatives to clearing snow and ice that minimize the harm to plants and animals in our community.

First, understand the weather conditions. If the snow is light and fluffy, then it can be cleared with just a shovel. In addition, laying down a large tarp to cover walkways or sidewalks before it snows can prevent surface buildup from the start. Simply lift the tarp off when the weather passes or every few hours if the weather is continuous.

If you do need to put something down to melt snow and ice after-the-fact, remember that the goal is to enable people to keep their footing. Using sandbox sand or cat litter is less harmful to the environment and many of us have these materials readily available. Other non-salt options include used coffee grounds, or alfalfa meal. If salt is the preferred choice, buy magnesium chloride-based products which are more effective and less harmful to the environment than sodium chloride-based products.

From the City's Committee for a Better Environment

Keep Your Pets Safe from the Elements

Freezing temperatures send outdoor cats into whatever shelters they can find—including under your car.

Cats often hide underneath parked cars when it rains or snows. And sometimes, they crawl into a car’s engine compartment to snuggle up near a still-warm motor once the driver shuts off the vehicle and walks away.

As comfortable as that temporary resting place might be for a shivering feline, a car is a dangerous shelter for any animal.

Most dangerous, perhaps, is the sweet smell and taste of the toxic antifreeze that might leak from your car onto the driveway or street. Cats that ingest even a tiny bit of that liquid— for instance by licking it from its paws—can quickly suffer kidney failure and die.

A cat that ingests antifreeze could lose its balance and coordination; become extremely thirsty; vomit; urinate excessively; or suffer seizures within 30 minutes. If you witness this, rush the cat to a vet; care within three hours could save your pet’s life.

Best bet: Don’t let your cats wander outside in the cold, even during daylight.

From the City's Animal Welfare Committee