It’s an urban myth that has perpetuated for years.
Popular thinking has it that if you clear snow or ice from the pavement outside your home or work you could be sued if someone falls over and injures themselves.
Not true, says the Department of Transport.
Its official advice is, don’t be put off clearing paths because you’re afraid someone will get injured.
The reality is it is actually helpful to clear slippery conditions outside your home to help prevent falls.
And remember, people walking on snow and ice have a responsibility to be careful themselves.
Don’t believe the myths – it’s unlikely you’ll be sued or held legally responsible for any injuries if you have cleared the path carefully.
If you do set about some public spirited de-icing work, here’s some quick tips.
Pay extra attention to clearing snow and ice from steps and steep pathways, you might need to use more salt on these areas.
Use salt or sand, not water. If you use water to melt the snow, it may refreeze and turn to black ice. Black ice increases the risk of injuries as it is invisible and very slippery.
You can melt snow or prevent black ice by spreading some salt on the area you have cleared. You can use ordinary table or dishwasher salt – a tablespoon for each square metre you clear should work.
Don’t use the salt found in salting bins – this will be needed to keep the roads clear unless your council advises otherwise. Please contact your local council for more advice.
Be careful not to spread salt on plants or grass as it may damage them.
If you don’t have enough salt, you can also use sand or ash. These won’t stop the path icing over as effectively as salt, but will provide good grip underfoot.
Take care where you move the snow, so that it doesn’t block people’s paths or drains.
Make sure you make a path down the middle of the area to be cleared first, so you have a clear surface to walk on. Then shovel the snow from the centre of the path to the sides.
You could offer to clear your neighbours’ paths if they’re having difficulty getting in and out of their home.
Check that any elderly or disabled neighbours are alright in the cold weather.
If you’re worried about them, try contacting their relatives or friends, or if necessary the local council.