Ice is an extremely hazardous thing to deal with, and wintertime can be very unsafe if you don't have the proper items to keep you from slipping! While there is no way to guarantee a safe winter, there are certainly some tools you can have handy that will help; your chances of injury will be greatly reduced if you keep your property clear and your vehicle prepped.
A snow shovel is a handy tool for clearing yourself a walkway when the snow has piled up. You can set your children to work on the driveway or sidewalk, or you can attack the buildup yourself, to make sure that you've got a safe passageway to your car or to the mailbox. You can buy a secondhand snow shovel and it should be just fine. Make sure, though, when you're buying it that you test the connection between the shovel and the handle. That's the spot where the weight and tension will be, and if that is loose or strained, you could end up with a two-piece shovel on your hands.
Rock salt, when sprinkled across ice, will help melt it more quickly as well as provide traction for people walking over it. You can buy an entire 25-pound bag of this inexpensive product at your local hardware store for $5 or maybe even less (though if you know you'll need it, buy it before the snow hits, so the store can't up the cost without warning). Keep some handy in your garage for when your sidewalk is looking treacherous.
Keep a windshield scraper in your car at all times -- in the glove compartment or under the seat is a good spot. Although when you're at home, you can pour hot water over your windshield to melt away any ice there, this water will quickly freeze back over and you will have to scrape it off somehow. Plus, if you're somewhere that you don't have easy access to hot water, you might need a way to clear the ice from your view. These are inexpensive and can be purchased at most car supply shops.
If you live anywhere that is affected by snow, you need to own a set of chains for your tires. You can buy chains secondhand and there should be no difference in product quality; however, it's unlikely that someone who lives in a snow-impacted area is going to sell their chains, so you'll probably have to buy your own. Chains run from around $50 to $100, and while that may seem like a lot, keep in mind that it's a one-time purchase and it could save you a lot of grief and medical headaches.
Check out some warm ideas in our blog for things you can do in the summertime, like shop garage sales!