Mother Nature has been giving us a run for our money with a dose of cold temperatures, snow and ice! If you listen to that pesky groundhog, we may be in for more of the same, or not, who listens to a rodent anyway? Right or wrong, it’s always best to be prepared and be safe (while also being sustainable!)

Safety is important for commuters of all forms- pedestrians, motorists and cyclists no matter what the weather is but is an even more important issue in the winter. Between inclement weather, windy conditions and reduced daylight hours, winter requires all of us to take extra measures to ensure our safety.


It’s cold out there and most people are bundled up to stay warm. However, when wearing scarfs or hats, it is important to make sure that you have an unobstructed view or what’s in front of you and around you when walking. Use crosswalks, especially when roads are snow-covered- it is more likely that a vehicle would anticipate a pedestrian in a crosswalk than in the middle of the road. When it’s cold out, it may be tempting to walk against the light, but play it safe and wait to the Walk sign- it is not worth the effects of surprising a vehicle that does not expect someone in the crosswalk when they do not have the right of way. And of course, Heads Up, Phones Down! Distracted walking can be just as dangerous as distracted driving!

For drivers, winter driving conditions can be the most hazardous. It is important to obey the speed limit and drive slowly in inclement weather. With snow, ice or rain on the road, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to stop and maneuver when these hazards cause poor road conditions. Remember to keep your vehicle’s windows and mirrors clean and free of snow and ice before driving. New Jersey law requires drivers to remove snow from the top of your vehicle prior to driving. Snow can impair another driver’s ability to see which makes roadways more dangerous! And no matter if it is 5 degrees and snowing or 85 degrees and sunny, remember- Heads Up, Phones Down. Remember, that text or e-mail can wait!

Bicyclists should also take extra precautions for safety in the winter. It is important to make sure that you are visible to motorists by wearing lighter, reflective clothing. It is also recommended to install a front light on your bike to help the cyclist to see as well as a rear light which will help keep the bicyclist more visible to motorists. Bicyclists should also regularly check their tires as tire pressure can change with temperature changes- make sure that tires are properly inflated before hitting the road. If conditions are icy or there is heavy snow on the road, it is better to wait until roads and paths are clear enough to travel safely! Don’t fret- Spring will be here soon!

And before you even get moving, you have to handle the elements out there! While salt is a great option for melting ice and snow, it is not a healthy option for the environment, pets and your garden. While it is a natural material, salt eats into concrete and can also harm aquatic life when the ice-salt mix melts into groundwater and streams. Salt left on the surface can wind up on a pet’s paws which causes cracking. For your garden, salt can harm vegetation when they look to grow back in the Spring. Luckily, there are some earth-friendly alternatives.

Eco-friendly salt-free deicers offer a non-toxic alternative to salt. Commonly referred to as “pet-safe” deicers, these products can be found online or at hardware/home store. While a tad pricier than normal rock salt, they provide a safer alternative and have been considered more effective than rock salt.

You may have noticed it on the area roadways- pickle brine is being used more and more as a safer alternative to salt. Similar to saltwater, pickle brine can melt ice at temperatures as low as -6 degrees. Applied prior to a storm, pickle brine prevents snow and ice from freezing onto the pavement which makes it easier for removal. If you don’t eat that many pickles, you can make your own brine. Simply mix 2 pounds of salt per gallon of water. You can also add a glass of sugar beet juice for added effectiveness!

If you are into making cheese (Hey- who isn’t?), cheese brine is an ecofriendly and effective method for melting ice and snow. In Wisconsin, cheese brine is used to melt ice by both highway officials and farmers. While salt bring freezes at -6 degrees, cheese brine does not free until -21 degrees. On the downside, there is a threat of an unwanted “stinky cheese” odor.

Since we’re looking at home remedies, we have one for deicing windshields that is also ecofriendly. Mix 3 cups of white vinegar with warm water and place into a spray bottle. Spray generously on your windshield and watch the ice melt away- and give you a magnificently clean windshield!

For the remainder of the winter, stay safe and sustainable! Spring is on its way!


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