Tips for Safer Walking This Winter

Winter is one of the most beautiful times of the year. Crisp air, fresh snowfalls, frozen lakes, what's not to love right? Well, as beautiful as this time of year is, it can also be quite dangerous for walking. When not careful, the beautiful snow and ice become tripping, slipping and falling hazards that can make anyone, young or old, their victim. But rather than hibernate and miss out on all of winter's beauty, a simple adjustment to your walking habits can be the difference between an enjoyable winter and a painful one.

Continue reading below for a list of tips for safer walking this winter.

1. Proper Footwear

First things first. Summer has passed, so it's time to ditch those slip-on shoes for something more appropriate. We suggest winter boots, but hiking shoes and hiking boots also work. Boots are essential when it comes to winter walking because they offer the traction and support you need. Many winter boots nowadays are designed to provide grip even when walking on ice, and better yet, winter boots will also keep your feet warm and dry no matter what you have to trek through. Due to their size and fit, boots can also help prevent twisted ankles, reducing your chance of being cooped up all season long.

2. Ice Grippers

Once you’ve got your footwear sorted, we suggest looking into ice grippers. Available for your boots, canes and walkers, these devices come in many different easy-to-install forms. For your boots, they’ll often be in the form of a rubber slip-on boot tread with added “spikes” on the bottom to grip the ice. In the case of canes and walkers, ice grippers will typically be a single spike (sometimes retractable) designed to slide over the base of the cane or walker. Regardless of the form of ice gripper you choose, you can expect to gain a lot more traction when forced to tackle ice. When using these devices, it’s also important to remember that they should be installed sitting down (right before you step outside is best) and should be removed when entering your home or a building. They can be quite sharp and can damage interior flooring quite easily.

3. Winterize your Cane

Ice grippers are the best way to add traction and grip to your cane, but for individuals who have chosen to use a cane for assistance rather than one being prescribed to them, ski poles are another option available to you that can help with grip without sacrificing support. And while we often associate canes with older individuals, ski poles and other walking sticks can be beneficial for people of all ages when it comes to walking in the winter.

4. Carry a Small bag of Grit

No matter how prepared you think you are, the thought of walking across ice and hard packed snow can be intimidating. If you find yourself in this group, you may want to try carrying a small resealable bag of sand, cat litter or some other form of grit. These substances can not only help melt ice but when sprinkled over top of ice, can provide traction for your boots. Sure, it may take a little bit longer to get where you’re going, but safety should always be your number one priority.

5. Ask For Help

Our last tip for safer winter walking is to ask for help. With how full parking lots, sidewalks and storefronts are at this time of year, it should be no problem finding someone willing to take a couple of minutes out of their day to help you. Having that extra bit of support or security is sometimes all that’s needed to get to where you’re going safely. And if you happen to be the person someone asks for help, we hope you remember this article and take a few minutes to help that person safely reach the other side of that icy patch.

No matter how many tips, tricks or devices you may have, walking on ice is a tricky situation. And although it all comes down to patience and taking your time, we suggest following the tips below when it comes to walking on ice.

How to Safely Walk Across Ice

  1. Slow down and carefully plan your next step
  2. Lower your centre of gravity by staying loose and bending your knees
  3. Take small steps and be sure to place your entire foot down at the same time (as opposed to putting your heel first)
  4. Keep your legs comfortably spread apart. The wider, the better.
  5. Some people prefer to shuffle their feet as they cross a patch of ice, if you wish to do this you may do so.

As hard as we try, accidents are bound to happen. And if you're unfortunate enough to suffer a fall, trip or slip, it's important to seek medical attention immediately. All too often we see people attempt to shake off a slip or fall and end up leaving themselves in severe pain for a long time. If you suffer a fall or slip, please reach out to us immediately, our rehabilitation team is equipped to examine your injury and provide you with a plan (if needed) that will get you back to your regular self in no time.

We hope that you now have a better idea of how to safely walk across snow, ice or any other hazard winter may throw at you. It's important to remember that patience is the key to safe winter walking and that without it, the tips above are useless. With these tips, we’re sure you’ll be walking in a winter wonderland this season. If you have any questions regarding anything discussed above, we encourage you to reach out to us by phone or email. Our team would be more than happy to assist you in any way they can.