Winter ice and snow is beautiful – but it can be dangerous, too. Ask anyone who's slipped and taken a nasty fall on an icy sidewalk or parking lot.
So how can you safely navigate across the ice and snow? Walk like a penguin, says Via Christi Health's director of Safety Management Carolyn Koehn!
Take a lot of small, slow, shuffling steps and point your feet out slightly like a penguin. Spreading your feet while walking on ice increases your center of gravity, she says. It also helps to wear treaded boots.
Here are her other winter walking safety tips:
- Be sure to bend slightly and walk flat-footed, with your weight directly over your feet as much as possible. Look ahead when you walk and extend your arms out to your sides to maintain balance. Wear warm gloves so you can keep your hands out of your pockets. That way, you can use your hands to break your fall if you do slip. It also helps to stop occasionally to break your momentum.
- If you must carry a load, try not to carry too much, or carry it in a backpack. It's best to leave your hands and arms free to balance yourself.
- In cold temperatures, assume all wet, dark areas on pavements are slippery and icy. Dew or water vapor can freeze on cold surfaces, forming an extra-thin, nearly invisible layer of ice that can look like a wet spot on the pavement. Approach these spots with caution.
- Try to walk only in designated walkways. Shortcuts over snow piles and other frozen areas can be hazardous. If sidewalks or driveways are icy and snow-covered, however, you may need to walk along its grassy edge for better traction.
- When walking on steps, always use the hand railings and plant your feet firmly on each step.
- Use special care when entering and exiting vehicles. Use the vehicle for support.
- And last but not least, don't rush. Plan ahead and give yourself enough time to get where you want to go.