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Winter Pedestrian Safety

The first step in staying safe is being well-informed! The winter weather is here and roads, sidewalks, steps and parking lots can be quite dangerous. All these surfaces will be covered with water, ice or snow increasing the risk of an injury from slipping, tripping or falling. Winter can be a challenging time of year to get out and about. Freezing rain, icy surfaces and piles of hard-packed snow pose a hazard for the innocent pedestrian.

Walking on slippery sidewalks, steps, icy parking lots and snowy landscapes requires special attention to avoid slipping and falling. Slips, trips and falls are some of the most frequent types of injuries during the winter months. No matter how well the snow and ice are removed from parking lots or sidewalks, pedestrians will still encounter some slippery surfaces when walking outdoors in the winter. It is important for everyone to be constantly aware of these dangers and to learn to walk safely on icy, wet and slippery surfaces.

Facing an icy surface can be a paralyzing experience. So, what should you do if it’s impossible to avoid an icy patch? Believe it or not, body movements can increase your stability on an icy surface. Just one false step and you could find yourself in a hospital emergency room when winter weather hits. Like driving on snow and ice, winter walking takes skill and experience.

Just one bad fall on ice can have long-term consequences. There are a number of risks associated with it that every person should be familiar with. These include: chronic pain in the affected area; serious injuries including lacerations, broken bones, a disabling injury or fear of another fall which discourages a healthy, active lifestyle.

Follow the tips below to learn how you can help keep yourself safe and injury free while walking in these often treacherous conditions during the winter months.

Winter Walking Safety Tips

A few simple measures can make it safer to walk outdoors in the winter. Removing snow and ice, putting sand or salt on areas where people walk, and wearing the right footwear all make a big difference. Walking in the wintertime can be hazardous but necessary.

– Plan extra time on your schedule to prevent being in a rush. Most accidents occur due to inattention or being in a hurry.
– Remove snow from shoes before entering any building. Wipe your feet clean on floor mats upon entering buildings.
– Always use handrail when going in and out of buildings, up and down stairs, vehicles or public transportation.
– The most important piece of clothing you can wear in slippery conditions is a good pair of shoes. You will want shoes with good traction (such as rubber and neoprene composite) to grip the ground and good ankle support to prevent a sprain or a twist if you should slip a little. Avoid plastic and leather soles
– Be especially careful when getting into or climbing out of vehicles as you are particularly vulnerable to falling if the surface is icy. Make sure you have firm footing and use the vehicle door or frame to brace/support yourself as much as possible.
– Wait for vehicles to stop completely before crossing the road. Approaching vehicles may not be able to stop immediately due to road conditions. Be alert when walking in parking lots or on sidewalks close to traffic when the roads are icy. Vehicles can easily lose control and won’t be able to stop quickly. Make sure you pay attention and give them lots of space to protect yourself.

When you have no choice but to walk on ice consider these tips:

– Walk at a slower pace and stay on designated walkways.
– Taking shortcuts over snow piles and areas where snow and ice removal is not feasible can be hazardous. Look ahead when you walk. A sidewalk completely covered with ice may require travel along its grassy edge for traction.
– Test the ground in front of you before you walk on it. Slippery ground does not always appear slippery, and so it is important to test the ground in front of you before transferring your full weight to it.
– Stick one foot out in front of you and move it around on the surface of the ground to test how slippery it is-this will give you a good idea of what it would be like to walk on it.
– Keeping your body as loose as possible, spread your feet to more than a foot apart to provide a base of support. This will help stabilize you as you walk.
– Next, keep your knees loose and don’t let them lock. If you can, let them bend a bit. This will keep your centre of gravity lower to the ground, which further stabilizes the body.
– If you fall relax and try to fall as limply as possible. Do so with sequential contacts at your thigh, hip, and shoulder to avoid using your arms to protect against breakage. Bend your back and head forward so you don’t hit your head. Avoid using your arms to stop your fall.

Now you are ready to take a step.

– Make the step small, placing your whole foot down at once. Then shift your weight very slowly to this foot and bring your other foot to meet it the same way. Keep a wide base of support.
– Some people prefer to drag their feet or shuffle them. If this feels better to you, then do so. Just remember to place your whole foot on the ice at once and keep your base of support approximately one foot wide.
-Take short, deliberate steps when turning corners or changing directions.
– Try to avoid carrying things while walking in the winter, as this can throw you off balance.
– When practicing winter pedestrian safety, avoid pushing young children in strollers if at all possible. If you must push your child in a stroller on the ice, take great care and walk extremely slowly.
– Do not carry a child while walking on slippery ground. If you should fall, you will put the child’s safety in serious jeopardy.
– Contact DPW Roads & Grounds at ext. 8419/8415 to report hazardous snow or ice-covered paths.

Think Safe! Be Safe!


About U.S. Army Garrison Fort A.P. Hill

This is the OFFICIAL Fort A.P. Hill WordPress blog. Views and opinions expressed here are those of the writers and do not reflect an official position of DOD, the Army or Fort A.P. Hill. Call the Public Affairs Office at (804) 633-8120 for more info.
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