Today you’ll learn how to walk on ice and snow without slipping so that you can pace in arctic conditions with confidence.
In fact, this guide includes evidence-backed tips that will help you walk upright no matter how thick the snow or ice is.
So if you don’t want to injure yourself or maim your body parts as you walk in wintry environments, you’ll find this post useful.
Before we get to the tips, let’s first have a look at why it’s hard to walk on ice and snow in the first place.
Why is it Difficult to Walk on Ice?
The main reason why you’re highly likely to fall when pacing on ice or snow is the lack of friction between your footwear and the ground.
Let me put it this way:
As you walk, the contact between your shoes and the ground creates a friction, which gives you the balance you need to move forward.
Unfortunately, the water molecules on icy and snowy surfaces make it almost impossible to generate any friction. And that’s why if you must walk on ice without slipping, you’ll need some special kind of ice traction shoes with solid grips.
Common Injuries Related to Ice and Snow
If you’ve had the pleasure of walking on ice without slipping, or you didn’t hit the ground with a thud in the process, then you should count yourself lucky.
That, however, doesn’t meant the risks aren’t worth knowing. In fact, there are many injuries related winter slips and falls, some of which include the following:
- Concussions as a result of your head hitting the ground
- Broken bones, wrists, and hip dislocation
- Fractures in the lower back (spinal cord fractures)
- Muscle strains and ligament sprains
Fortunately, you can prevent all these from happening. And here’s how to do just that.
Safety Tips for Walking on Ice Without Slipping
Here’s how to walk on ice safely without breaking a bone or hitting the pavement with a terrific thud:
1. Map Out the Safest Path
Make sure you have a clear picture of the route you’d like to use before you head out.
I suggest that you avoid any route that has slopes or stairs. That’s because maneuvering a slope is often risky, and if you add ice on top of it, you create a recipe for disaster.
In other words, you won’t have the perfect balance when climbing or walking down a slope. The law of gravity simply doesn’t allow you that kind of flexibility, and, as such, you’re likely to slip and hit the ground headfirst.
If you must take the staircase, make sure your hands are out of your pockets, and use handrails for better protection. Also, try to take small steps, and try to find your balance.
2. How Far Do Your Intend to Go?
You should have an estimate of how far you expect to walk. That will help you know what to expect and how much time it’ll take you to get there.
When you have an idea of the distance, you’ll gear up with the most appropriate clothing and footwear.
And this brings me to my next point.
3. Wear the Right Pair of Walking Shoes
If you want to walk on ice without falling, then you should invest in the right pair of shoes before you hit the ground running.
It sounds simple. And in real sense, it is.
I’m not saying that you go out and get yourself walking shoes from popular brands like the New Balance. While such a player has non-slip, water-resistant shoes, they may not be as effective in instances when you have to deal with a lot of snow and ice.
I’d say go for snow boots.
Generally, snow boots feature Thinsulate that keep your feet warm. They tend to be waterproof so they keep water out. And they have shafts raised a few inches above the ankle so you can even use them in deep snow and ice.
Make sure the pair of snow boots you choose:
- Is made of rubber or neoprene, because this type of shoe will provide you with the right amount of traction
- Has a flat sole, as this helps to lower your center of gravity and give you more balance
- Has an abrasive sole or cleats for the right grip on a slippery surface
I’d also like to advise you to avoid shoes with heels, leather shoes, and plastic shoes, because they won’t be effective on ice.
4. Check How You Walk
You simply can’t maintain your normal walking style on slippery surfaces. You need to make sure you have as much stability as possible.
To have the perfect balance that will enable you to walk easily, you should:
- Take short distinct steps. Shorts steps will help you to detect thin ice with ease and make it easy for you to maintain your balance.
- Avoid bending your knees forward when walking on an icy patch. Instead, try to bend in an upright position. You’ll lower your body’s center of gravity, and you’ll likely avoid any fall. To get a good idea of the right way to bend, check this article on walking like a Penguin.
- Extend your arms for better balance. Doing so will lower your center of gravity. Remember to avoid keeping your hands in your pocket no matter how cold it gets.
- You should always walk slowly. This will help you detect the depth of ice or snow on the ground.
5. Take Shortcuts
You should minimize the amount of time you spend outside on slippery surface. If there’s a shortcut to your destination, then by all means, take it.
Make sure the shortcut is safe and you’ll always be fine.
6. Avoid Parking Lots and Sidewalks
It’s no secret that parking lots and walkways have less snow, and it is tempting to use such areas.
The truth is most parking lots and sidewalks have a thin layer of ice where you can easily slip and fall.
To an extent, you may break the ice and even take a dip.
One way to identify a thin layer of ice is by its color. Mostly, you’ll see a black layer of ice on the side of pavements. If that’s the case, avoid the path at all cost.
7. Wear Appropriate Clothing
It’s common sense that you should dress appropriate in the cold winter season. Your clothes not only keep you warm but also protect you. So:
- Make sure you staff up with enough clothing that will protect you from any severe blowback in case you slip and fall.
- Wear bright colors, especially when you’re walking. It’ll help drivers passing by to notice your presence.
- Always have a pair of gloves on you. They’ll help you avoid pocketing when it gets too cold.
Once you reach your destination, remove your shoes and take out any snow or water that may have sipped in by accident.
How to Land Safely If You Slip/Fall on Ice
If you observe all the tips that I’ve provided in this guide, then you should be able to walk just fine without slipping or falling.
But I wouldn’t like to you to leave anything to chance. And I think it’s important to help you know what to do just in case you slip and fall.
More often than not, the right way to land is to avoid areas like your head and sine hitting the ground. So lean forward anytime you feel like you’re about to trip.
Also, avoid landing on your arms and knees because they’re fragile. Instead, land on your thigh, hip, or shoulder. These parts have healthy cartilage that provides the right protection possible.
The first few days of walking on nice and snow aren’t going to be easy for you, especially if you’re new to it. But I’m confident that if you follow the tips I’ve shared with you in this guide, pacing without tripping should come easy only after a couple of days.
If you forget everything that I’ve shared with you here, at least remember that you must wear rubber shoes with better traction, a pair of waterproof gloves, and appropriate clothing.
Remember, winter season isn’t a punishment. It’s a moment to stay indoors and enjoy the outdoors, too. If the cold outside forces you to stay indoors, cuddle up in bed, enjoy a hot cup of coffee, and wear that warm jersey that you love.
When you must go outdoors, makes sure you wear the right gear and you will always be safe.