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How IU deals with winter and recommends students and staff prepare for it

IU students found themselves slipping along campus sidewalks and walkways after icy conditions set in early Monday morning. 

Mike Girvin, the manager for IU Landscape Services Division, said he had employees and workers out as early as 3:30 a.m. treating walkways with salt and ice melt. Throughout a typical work day, IU Landscape Services uses anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500 bags of ice melt, Girvin said.

And while this latest freeze was relatively mild due to warmer temperatures later in the day, Girvin explained that it was still difficult to treat because of ground temperatures.

“These little spots just keep popping up,” Girvin said. “We had some challenges because of the cold ground temperature.”

Among the 70 employees Girvin said he had out working today, some will likely end up working 12 hour shifts. 

By the end of the work day IU landscape services will have poured 1,000 to 1,500 bags of ice melt on the walkways throughout the course of the day in an effort to keep the paths clear. 

Cold ground temperatures are one of the biggest dangers and can cause areas already covered by ice melt or salt to simply refreeze later. Girvin explained his workers are constantly on the lookout for trouble spots they can treat again. 

IU Landscape Services tries to keep on hand around 700 tons of road salt and 30-40 tons of bagged ice melt. Girvin said that they are worried more about safety than anything else and will use as much product as they need.

“I’d rather keep y’all safe,” Girvin said.

Girvin also explained how the many brick walkways around campus are prone to be colder because they insulate the ground and prevent it from warming up as the temperature rises. 

This is one reason why workers have been forced to salt and treat the area around Sample Gates five or six times on Monday and why Girvin said students just need to be careful. 

"There are times when you have to use your best caution," Girvin said.

Tips and Recommendations

-Girvin recommended students invest in a set of ice creepers to help students navigate the approximately 53 miles of walkways that cover the University. Ice creepers are slipped on over a pair of boots or shoes and have spikes to help with traction along icy paths. Prices found via differ; some sets of ice creepers are as low as six or seven dollars. Others are closer to $60. 

-Sometimes it’s best for students and faculty to simply avoid the walkways and walk on the grass when possible, Girvin said.

-Anyone driving may also want to consider using sandbags or kitty litter to add some extra weight to their vehicles as a way to gain traction along the roads as well, Girvin said.

-Allow more time for travel to and from class. Slick roads and sidewalks can add significant time to travel plans.

-The cold weather is also liable to hurt your phone battery, so keep your phone charged when possible.

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