Wilkes University


Safe Walking in the Winter

Winter is here. So are the ice, snow and slippery conditions that make getting around a challenge. All too often these conditions lead to a serious slip-and-fall injury. Follow the tips below to learn how you can help keep yourself safe and injury-free while walking in these often treacherous conditions.

Walking to and from parking lots or between buildings at work during the winter requires special attention to avoid slipping and falling on ice. With an increase of extreme winter weather events in the Northeast, slips and falls are some of the most frequent types of injuries reported. Always be constantly aware of the potential dangers associated with snow and ice and learn how to walk safely on icy and slippery surfaces.

Walking on Ice

Always assume that all wet and dark areas on pavement are slippery or icy. Penguins evolved to walk on icy surfaces and we can emulate how they walk with the following tips:

  • Bend slightly and walk flat-footed with your center of gravity directly over your feet as much as possible.
  • Extend your arms out to your sides to maintain balance keeping your hands out of your pockets.
  • Point your feet out slightly. Spreading your feet out slightly increases your center of gravity.
  • Walk slowly or shuffle and watch where you are stepping.
  • Approach all surfaces with caution and be careful when entering or exiting a vehicle.
  • Only walk in designated walkways; taking shortcuts can be hazardous.

walk like a penguin illustration

Falling on Ice

If you are about to fall on ice, practice the following techniques:

  • Try to avoid landing on your knees, wrists, or spine. Try to fall on a fleshy part of your body, such as your side.
  • Try to relax your muscles if you fall and do not lock joints; you will injure yourself less if you are relaxed.

how to walk on ice illustration

Precautions to Take

The following precautions should be taken before you experience an icy surface:

  • Wear shoes and boots with good traction; avoid shoes with smooth soles or heels.
  • Wear a heavy, bulky coat that will cushion you if you should fall.
  • Only carry what you need to free your hands in case of a fall and to promote balance.
  • Keep your cell phone with you in case you need to call for help.