On February 2, 2015, Chicago residents woke up to more than 19 inches of snow on the ground. Over the weekend, the fifth largest blizzard to ever hit Chicagoland produced nearly non-stop snowfall and wind gusts up to 45 mph.

While a few lucky individuals decided to spend the day indoors, many more people had to suffer through a rough commute. Trains experienced mechanical failures, and minor accidents cluttered the roadways.

On days like these, many homeowners have to decide the best way to make it to work. Should they shovel their walkways and driveways themselves, or should they hire a professional to remove the snow for them?

If you’re not sure which works best for you, consider these top reasons to rely on professional snow removal services.

1. You Protect Your Health

Shoveling snow is backbreaking work. Literally. According to the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, an average of 11,500 injuries occur each year due to snow-shoveling. The most common injuries involved soft tissue damage, lacerations, and fractions. However, the lower back was the most frequently injured region of the body.

Gary Smith, MD, DrPH warns that shoveling increases the heart’s workload and the cold temperatures add to the chances of experiencing a heart attack. If you are at-risk for cardiovascular disease, hire someone else remove the snow for you, or at least consult with a doctor before undertaking the job.

2. You Protect Yourself Against Liability

As a homeowner, you have the responsibility to exercise reasonable care and maintenance for your property. You must make sure your stairs and sidewalks are completely clear of ice and snow so potential visitors can stay safe.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much for a passing neighbor or pedestrian to fall on your sidewalk. A few inches of snow can hide all sorts of cracks or debris in your sidewalk, making it difficult to navigate safely. If someone slips and falls on your property, you may have liability for his or her injuries.

Furthermore, the City of Chicago requires everyone to keep sidewalks clear. If you do not shovel the ice and snow from your sidewalks, you may face a fine up to $50, and that fine may increase for every day you fail to comply with the ordinance.

3. You Protect Your Property

Although your driveway may look like solid concrete, a closer look reveals tiny pores in its surface. As the snow and ice collect and then melt on your driveway, the water seeps into the pores and then refreezes with cold weather. As the water freezes, it expands, resulting in cracking and pitting. Soon, you may need to fill in gaps with sand or you may have to re-pave your driveway.

If you shovel your driveway yourself, you may be tempted to use ordinary rock salt to de-ice your property. Rock salt helps melt the snow and reduces the risk of water refreezing on your concrete. However, rock salt only offers protection in temperatures of 25 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending on weather severity, areas in Chicago may see temperatures as low as -15 degrees Fahrenheit.

Instead of relying on typical rock salt, many professional snow removal companies rely on calcium chloride. These de-icing pellets can resist re-freezing at temperatures of -25 degrees. This protects your driveway against the damaging freezing and thawing cycle.

4. You Can Sleep a Little Sounder and a Little Longer

When storms blow in, you have a lot more to worry about than finding a matching pair of mittens. You may feel anxious about supplying your home with alternative power, or perhaps you feel the dread of knowing that you have to get up hours earlier to scrape your driveway enough to pull out of your garage. Maybe you fear driving in bad weather and sliding into a ditch. These fears can keep you up at night, making it difficult to sleep.

When you hire a professional to remove your snow, you can alleviate some of your fears. You can expect the removal service to clear your driveway and sidewalk at a set time, so you can make it to work without the worry. You can wake up at your usual hour and feel well rested and ready for the day.

5. You Save Time and Money

While you could try to keep your driveway and sidewalks clear of ice and snow, you may be fighting an uphill battle. Just as you clear away a foot or two, Mother Nature may come roaring in with even more snow. You waste hours salting and scraping when you could spend that time doing more important, productive, and lucrative activities.

Many professional snow removal companies offer great deals for seasonal services. If the winter looks particularly harsh, you could order packages that will guarantee snow removal for a competitive rate. If the weather looks mild, you could order a one-time service. You can pick and choose your options based on your budget.

These are just a few benefits you can expect when you opt for a professional snow removal service. If snow threatens to cover your driveway, don’t hesitate to call on a professional.