During the winter time, when it is snowy outside, and the world is clean and vibrant it can be truly stunning outside, and we just want to be out there in it, playing about, throwing snowballs and going for walks.
We’re due some snow later this week, and it’s good to remind ourselves here in the Outdoor Revival office as well as all of you that we need to be careful at the same time as having fun and enjoying the great outdoors.
There’s no doubt about it, walking is a great way for us to stay in shape, it can also be particularly nice in the winter because the world looks so gorgeous and scenic. But with all that beauty it can bring its own danger. Things like freezing rain, icy surfaces, piled-up snow, low temperatures can all become hazards for walkers.
A slip or fall can have serious consequences, both physical and mental, and you only have to suffer such a fall badly once to experience a loss of confidence or injury that can have long-term consequences.
Here are a few things that we can all follow to minimize their risk of injury. Let’s face it, we want to be out having fun not stuck indoors busted up.
So the following practical tips are to help you stay safe when there are snow and ice on the ground.
Footwear – Thinking about this logically the first thing to look at is what’s on your feet as that’s the connection between you and any slippery surface you walk on. Proper footwear is very important for many reasons.
If you’re walking in winter then good boots are a good idea, they should be well-insulated to keep you warm. It’s also good if they’re waterproof and preferably breathable in some way (your socks can make a huge difference here) the idea is to keep your feet dry and warm.
Rubber boots can also help you to stay safe and warm in bad winter weather although they’re not breathable.
Your boots need to support your ankle and protect your foot, and the sole of your boot should be nonslip, rubber is a good choice, but there are many designs and materials that can work and it’s worth the time to get boots properly fitted and remember, you get what you pay for.
Ice grippers, these attach to footwear and help in walking across ice and packed snow safely. They have steel points on them that are embedded into a stretchy rubber mesh, these dig in and give you grip. But remember to take them off when you’re off the icy ground, otherwise, you could fall, damage the gripper and just think about the mess you could make of your lovely hallway floor!
Canes and Poles – Those who are older, carry loads or perhaps not in the best shape want to be careful when there is a lot of snow or ice outside – a sturdy cane or a pair of ski/walking poles can really help in staying upright and maintaining balance. It gives you three points of contact rather than just the two we have naturally and this can make a huge difference.
A cane should have some sort of retractable or coverable pick at the end so that it can stick into the snow or ice, if the snow is deeper than a few inches you can get baskets to fit on walking poles that help to stop it sinking too far.
Clothing – Proper clothing is important. Use the layering system so that you can stay warm in the cold winter weather. Using this system you’re able to adjust your temperature depending on what you’re doing or the changes in the weather. Consider putting some reflective tape on clothing when walking in the dark, and wear clothing that helps you be noticed, it’s better to stand out than blend in, so an orange coat rather than a white coat.
Wear a hat, scarf, and gloves, all of these add insulation to your body, and they also act as some protection in case you do slip and fall. We lose a huge amount fo heat from our heads, so it’s reasonable that if you want to be warm, keep a hat on!
Awareness – One of the more obvious but important tips is to slow down when walking in winter; this allows you to have more time and more control of yourself. Good walking posture is with knees slightly bent and your feet under you. Your aim is to see any hazards before they become incidents.
If the sidewalk’s not been cleared or it looks icy then avoid it, sidewalks are often slippery, many’s the time I’ve had my feet leave the ground because I’ve not thought about what I’m doing and just started walking, to then be laying on my back reminding myself to be more aware.
If the snow is deep I tend to shuffle my feet; I did 2 miles like this once and while it was tiring it also helped me feel much more secure and safe. Keep your feet apart so your weight is more widely distributed.
A little tip – is to have some grit or non-clumping cat litter, if you come across an area that you’re struggling to walk on scatter some of it along your path, this is especially useful if there’s a slight slope you’re trying to walk on.
Extra Protection Tip – Some people, especially older folk can be prone to brittle bones and need to be careful of hip fractures and things like that. You can buy hip protectors that will help in case you do slip and it also gives a psychological boost as well and with that confidence comes a bit more safety because you can relax while walking rather than being tense and stiff.
Don’t stay inside just because winter has arrived. The cold and snow can be beautiful and invigorating, and shouldn’t keep you from going outside. Keep these tips in mind before and while you’re outside and you’ll be taking the right steps to stay safe.
Happy winter walking!
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We live in a beautiful world, get out there and enjoy it.
Outdoor Revival – Reconnecting us all with the Outdoors