When the weather outside is frightful, it’s time to be extra cautious in your travels, whether on the road or on sidewalks. Preparation is key to being safe throughout hazardous conditions, so we’ve compiled a list of what to do and know before winter weather gets treacherous and how to stay safe once we’re at the height of the season.
Prepare your vehicle
Now is a great time to give your vehicle a check-up to ensure it’s safe to drive this winter. You’ll want to check that the following are in working order and at their proper levels:
- Tire pressure
- Tire tread
- Transmission fluid
- Engine oil level
- Brake fluid
- Power steering fluid
It’s also a good idea to load test your vehicle’s battery, inspect your wiper blades, check all lights and inspect hoses. If you don’t have one already, assemble an emergency kit with essentials like road flares, a water bottle, a blanket and a jump kit. Don’t forget to replace your spare tire if it’s worn or missing.
Prepare for icy walkways
Winter hazards don’t necessarily end once you’ve arrived safely at your destination. In fact, according to the National Safety Council, falls are the most frequent home accident, with a high percentage of those falls the result of ice and snow.
Use extra care when exiting buildings or vehicles, as the bottoms of warm shoes promote slipping. Be on the lookout for wet, dark locations, particularly during evening hours, between parked cars, at walk bridges, curbs and gutters and around melting snow piles. Assume these areas are slippery if the temperature is around 32 degrees, and avoid those potentially icy areas if you can. If you can’t, wear boots or shoes with winterized soles or ice cleats. You can always bring along a second pair of shoes to wear indoors, so it’s not worth the risk of walking across ice wearing smooth-bottomed footwear!
No matter what you have on your feet, be mindful of your path of travel and walk only in designated paths, as those are much more likely to be sanded/salted/cleared than your favorite shortcut. Take slow, short, shuffling steps to increase your stability and keep your hands out of your pockets (even if it’s cold!) to increase your balance. Use available handrails and avoid carrying heavy loads that will throw off your balance. When in doubt, take a cue from penguins: walking with your feet pointed out slightly improves your center of gravity and reduces your chances of slipping.
By keeping these safety guidelines in mind, we’ll all experience a winter where the only things falling will be the snowflakes!