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Tips for wintertime walking to avoid slips and falls

March 2, 2018

Wintertime walking is tricky and slips and falls can occur more frequently due to seasonal conditions. Read our tips to help reduce the risks during winter weather.

men shoveling


Winter is the time of year when slips and falls can occur more frequently due to hazardous weather conditions. The following information provides sound advice for increasing your awareness of your surroundings when walking on wet or slippery sidewalks, walkways, parking lots and building entrances.


Proper footwear


As the temperature drops and water on surfaces freeze, a good pair of winter boots with proper traction will be helpful. A boot with a non-slip tread sole should have wide, low heels. For daily winter walking, it might be more helpful for the boot to be lightweight and waterproof. Rainy conditions may require a light boot that is waterproof, less bulky yet stable, and warm enough to prevent hypothermia. Shoes or boots with leather or plastic soles should be avoided on slippery, wet, and icy surfaces. Boots with good rubber treads or over-shoes with rubber treads are suggested for wintertime walking.


How to walk safely on snow and ice


Always observe your surroundings when parking your car and exiting the vehicle to walk. If possible, plan your route and allow sufficient time to reach your destination. Do not hurry and jump out of your car. Before you take a step, take a deep breath and relax. Bend and relax your knees, walk slowly and take small steps to maintain your center of balance over your feet.


Walk carefully, anticipate the possibility of falling, and never run or hurry on icy walkways. Keep your eyes focused on where you are going and plan your next steps and moves. To help your balance, keep your hands at your sides and not in your pockets. If handrails or railings are available, use them, but be sure to wear your gloves to help protect your hands from the elements and assist with your grip.


Avoid carrying big or bulky items and try never to carry heavy boxes or items on stairways when in slippery, wet or icy conditions. If you need to carry items, try to keep one hand free to hold onto railings. Also try to make sure your vision is not obstructed.


Other key points to remember:

  • When going from outside to inside during wet, icy, or snowy conditions, be aware that floor surfaces can be a challenge, especially in wet conditions.
  • Try to avoid taking shortcuts. Be cautious of uphill and downhill sections and rest as needed.
  • Snow melt de-icing products can help to melt the snow. Sand or other abrasives may also be used to help with traction.
  • Should you fall, try to relax and avoid extending your arms.
  • In very heavy snow and ice, consider shoe traction devices or ice grippers to wear over footwear. Be sure to remove them before going indoors.
  • Always shake your umbrella outside to avoid saturating the indoor floor surface.
  • When approaching crosswalks or crossing streets, always be aware of approaching vehicles that could potentially lose control and slide towards you.
  • If walking at night, wear bright colors or reflective vests to be seen. Remember that weather-related elements may decrease visibility.

Download our RiskTopics “Tips for wintertime walking to avoid slips and falls” for additional information on making wintertime walking a little easier.