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Discussion Starter #1
This will be our fist winter in this house and we have been trying to figure out what to do about the steps in the back that go from the house into the back yard. The house is a raised ranch, so the first floor is a level up off the ground. This means that from our deck off the kitchen Mandi has to walk down an entire flight of stairs to get into the yard. The only other way into the yard is to go out the front door and through the yard (and in the winter through the snow) to the fence at the back of the house. With a 1yo it is not always going to be possible for me to leave her alone in the house to do this.

What I am looking for are ideas on how to either keep the snow off the steps easily.

Option 1: We have thought about how we could put up a temporary cover over the steps using plywood and maybe a tarp, but since the house is aluminium siding and not wood, we don't want to drill a hole into the house to attach it to the house. The steps have a railing on the left side of them but the right side is just up against the house. This also would not keep snow from blowing onto the step from the side and from the deck. This would also make it difficult if there is a fire or reason to leave our house quickly as unless we built the "shelter" 6 feet tall, we would not fit down it. Still, this is what we are leaning toward.

Option 2: We thought about looking for some kind of rubber mats we can put on the steps that would allow us to throw salt down (they are wood, so the salt would eat through the wood steps eventually if we threw it right on them) down them. The problem with this is that dog safe salt would get really expensive after a while and regular salt worries me with her paws. Growing up I had a Beardie that used to get the stuf in between her pads and it would cause a burn.

The deck is not new, but it is also not that old. We are planning on redoing it in a few years and at that time we'll make the steps only go halfway, then have a landing and turn and go back the other way so there are only maybe 5 steps at a time. But for now we need another solution.

Ideas? What have you all done to dog safe your steps from the snow and ice?
 

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As a victim of falling down icy steps with my dog one super cold morning, where I actually blacked out and woke up with a cute little puppy licking my face, I now use long black ribbed rubber mats on the individual steps that I can scrap the snow and ice off of, and then actually pick them up to bend and remove any excess ice.

 

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Emily when we have ice issues here we always use kitty litter (any cheap brand will do. Not only does it melt ice and provide traction, it also asorbs the water as it melts.

As far as covering the stairs with a tarp/plywood, would it be possible to wrap the edge of a tarp under the plywood before you nail it to the stair railing?
 

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It's been my experience that you keep steps ice free by shoveling, sweeping, breaking ice and moving it off! That's all I've found that works. It's more for me than the dogs as they do just fine navigating a mess of ice and snow.

Your tunnel sounds like a good idea. To avoid tying into the house, you will want a set of uprights next to the house, attached to the stairs at the bottom - even then you probably can't get around anchoring this to the house. For covering, you might consider, especially if the tunnel roof is arched or slants away from the house at a good angle (which is probably the best as you don't want the melt running down against your siding) you could stretch a tarp or use light colored fiberglass panels for the roof and a tarp to cut down on the sideways drift.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Originally Posted By: DSuddEmily when we have ice issues here we always use kitty litter (any cheap brand will do. Not only does it melt ice and provide traction, it also asorbs the water as it melts.
Someone once told me they used this on their driveway. Let me ask you...doesn't the kitty litter just puff up when it gets wet? I would think it would make a big puffy kitty litter mess that would have to then be shoveled. But I dont know - I've always salted the driveway and walkway after shoveling and I never lived in a place with more than 5 steps down to the ground from the door to the house, so steps were neve a big issue.
 

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Originally Posted By: middleofnowhereIt's been my experience that you keep steps ice free by shoveling, sweeping, breaking ice and moving it off! That's all I've found that works. It's more for me than the dogs as they do just fine navigating a mess of ice and snow.
We are not going to be using these steps in the winter as they go to the backyard, so I am looking mainly to keep Mandalay from falling down them. I can't imagine why they'd have made a straight staircase of 12 or so steps instead of doing 5, a landing and then 5 more.

As for the dog navigating her way through just fine...
Mandalay is not the most graceful of animals. I'm actually surprised she has managed not to fall down the steps while they are dry! lol.
 

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I did find these heated stair treads that would melt the snow and ice off. But @ $140 A STAIR
, Mandalay will just have to learn to ski down the steps.
 

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A wet tarp is MORE slippery than ice in my experience. Personally I would not worry about removing the snow but either cat litter or sand works great. Many of the salt products are not safe for dogs. Sand and kitty litter work fine and generally cheaper.
I used sand numerous times last winter to get my van out of an icy driveway.
 

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Originally Posted By: AmaruqA wet tarp is MORE slippery than ice in my experience. ...
Hey, the tarp isn't for walking on - it's for the side that faces the yard - kinda like a wall, to keep snow from drifting in so much from the side... Obviously I wasn't clear on that one! Wet tarp would get everyone down those stairs pronto!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Originally Posted By: middleofnowhere
Originally Posted By: AmaruqA wet tarp is MORE slippery than ice in my experience. ...
Hey, the tarp isn't for walking on - it's for the side that faces the yard - kinda like a wall, to keep snow from drifting in so much from the side... Obviously I wasn't clear on that one! Wet tarp would get everyone down those stairs pronto!
I understood what you meant. LoL. but I did laugh at the thought of someone sliding down the steps on a wet tarp. Only in my thought there was someone at the top of the steps that pulled it tight as someone else took a step and the tarp went straight and it was more like a slide.

Ever watch Scrubs? That is how my mind works most of the time. LoL.
 
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