From icy sidewalks to snowy roads, plus extremely cold temperatures, winter provides its own unique set of challenges. We know it’s easy to get distracted as we try to get our regular day-to-day chores done amidst difficult and often dangerous circumstances, so it’s always good to give ourselves a reminder as to how to get through winter without hurting ourselves, or worse, someone else.
Here are some ways to keep yourself safe and uninjured this winter.
Walking on icy sidewalks
- Choose the right footwear: Selecting the proper footwear is essential when walking on icy sidewalks. Opt for boots with slip-resistant soles to enhance traction. Those with treads that mix in abrasive materials with a softer rubber compound tend to provide the most “stick” to icy surfaces.
- Walk like a penguin: Alberta Health Services advises that when sidewalks are slippery, the best thing to do is walk like a penguin. Bend forward slightly, angle your feet outwards, and keep your legs apart. Walk flat-footed rather than heel to toe, and take shorter, shuffling-type steps. It may not look graceful, or even very co-ordinated, but it will help you to keep your centre of gravity over top of your feet as much as possible. Concentrate on staying upright, watch where you step, and don’t rush. Always keep your hands out of your pockets and away from your body to help improve your balance. That means wearing gloves or mittens to keep your hands warm! If you have to carry a lot of stuff, a backpack is a great idea.
- Bend your knees: Keep your knees slightly bent while traversing icy sidewalks. This provides better stability and helps you react more quickly if you encounter a slippery spot.
- Use handrails: If handrails are available, make use of them. Their additional support is essential for stairs and they can even prevent a fall if you lose your balance.
- Watch your step: Be vigilant and keep your eyes open. Take your time and carefully assess each step before putting your full weight on it. Even if a sidewalk appears clear, there may be hidden ice patches.
Driving in snowy conditions
- Winter tires are well worth the investment. They are far superior to all-seasons as they are made out of a special kind of rubber that maintains its elasticity and malleability even down to temperatures below -30 degrees Celsius. That allows them to keep their traction. Winter tires can help you to stop about 30% faster than regular tires.
- Prepare your vehicle: Get your vehicle is winter-ready by checking the battery, tires, brakes, and ensuring all fluids are topped up.
- Drive slowly: Snowy conditions require reduced speeds. Drive well below the speed limit and leave plenty of room between your vehicle and others. Accelerate and decelerate gradually to avoid skidding.
- Brake carefully: Use gentle, steady pressure when applying the brakes. Avoid slamming on the brakes, as this can lead to skidding. If your vehicle has an anti-lock braking system (ABS), apply steady pressure and let the system do its job.
- Clear snow and ice: Before driving, clear all snow and ice from your vehicle, including windows, lights, and the roof. Snow on the roof will fly off and obstruct the biew of others on the road.
- Stay informed about road conditions: Check road conditions before you embark on a journey. If conditions are severe, consider delaying your trip or make sure to leave yourself plenty of time.
- Keep an emergency kit: Pack an emergency kit in your vehicle, including items such as a sleeping bag, flashlight, extra clothing, non-perishable snacks, and a first aid kit. In case of an unexpected delay or emergency, these items can be invaluable.
General winter safety practices
- Layer up: Dress warmly in layers to retain body heat. Use moisture-wicking fabrics for the inner layer to keep sweat away from the body, and waterproof outer layers to protect against snow and sleet.
- Stay hydrated: Even in cold weather, staying hydrated is crucial. Drink plenty of water to help your body regulate temperature and avoid dehydration.
- Be cautious with space heaters: If using space heaters, ensure they are in good working condition and placed in a safe location away from flammable materials. Never leave them unattended.
- Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning: Keep heating systems well-maintained to prevent carbon monoxide leaks. Install carbon monoxide detectors in your home, and be aware of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, such as dizziness and nausea.
- Shovel safely: When shoveling snow, use proper body mechanics to avoid strain. Bend your knees, lift with your legs, and take breaks to prevent overexertion. If you have a heart condition or health concerns, consult with a doctor before shoveling.
- Know your limits: Winter activities can be enjoyable, but it’s essential to know your limits. If the weather is severe, consider staying indoors. Frostbite and hypothermia can occur quickly in extreme cold.
- Communicate travel plans: If you’re planning to travel in winter conditions, inform someone about your itinerary. This way, someone will know when to expect you, and assistance can be provided if needed.
Let Mirage take care of your snow removal needs
You have enough to worry about in the winter. No snow removal job is too big or too small for Mirage Landscaping of Calgary to offer a free quote. Regular snow removal by the professionals from Mirage Landscaping not only makes your property safer for you and your visitors, through us carrying our own liability insurance, it also means that someone is regularly coming by your home, even if you are out of town for the holidays, providing an added layer of protection.