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The first real snow of the season hit Louisville last week. Businesses and schools can’t afford to ignore snow until it melts. Untreated or poorly treated parking lots, drives and walkways are a hazard to customers and staff, and a slip and fall accident can result in a significant lawsuit. Here are some tips for handling heavy snow:

Prepare equipment and supplies. Inspect, service and fuel up trucks and tractors in advance. Check over plow blades and chemical spreaders and make sure they are up to the task. Stock up on the proper chemicals and snow shovels, preferably before storms are in the forecast. And don’t forget the safety gear: eye protection, non-slip footwear, gloves suitable for handling chemicals.

Identify and prepare priority areas. Before the snow hits, mark vulnerable landscaping areas with stakes or flags. The stakes or flags should be high enough to be visible above the snow, so you’ll know to avoid those areas when shoveling or plowing.

Treat surfaces before the first flakes hit. As snow falls, it bonds to surfaces, creating a heavy, slippery sheet that’s hazardous and hard to remove. Your goal here is to prevent that bonding. Wondering which chemicals to use? Salt is effective for melting ice in temps as low as 15 degrees, while calcium chloride and magnesium chloride are effective at lower temperatures.

Remove snow early and often. Don’t wait until the storm is over before you tackle shoveling. Plan to shovel surfaces as soon as they are covered, and plan to shovel again if they are covered again. Keeping surfaces clear reduces the chance of snow bonding to the surface, and moving an inch or two of snow is a lot easier than moving several inches.

Watch where you are putting that stuff. Don’t pile up snow where it can cause damage when it melts, or create another hazard. Be aware that salt and chemicals might be mixed in with the snow, and could damage landscaping beds and grass.