Sleet, snow and freezing rain are all common during the winter in many areas of the country. While snow can be easily seen when it falls and starts to pile up, freezing rain can lead to icy conditions quickly and it may be invisible on pavement. A wet patch on the road or sidewalk may not just be a puddle of rainwater – it could be frozen – especially if the temperatures are at or below freezing.
Understanding how to prepare for winter storms, and how to walk or drive in these icy conditions, could help you and your family stay safe this season. Here are some winter tips for dealing with ice this winter.
Traveling when the forecast calls for sleet or freezing rain
It goes without saying that the best way to stay safe during winter weather is to stay inside and off the roads. However, not everyone is able to stay home during bad weather, and you may have to drive to work or school.
Follow these tips when you MUST drive in icy weather.
- Be sure that everyone in the car is wearing their seatbelt. If you have children in the car, make sure that they are secure in their car seat.
- Never use cruise control. Road conditions can change quickly and unexpectedly.
- Have ample space between yourself and the car in front of you. You may need to make a sudden stop, and your stopping time in snow or ice is drastically increased.
- Never try to pass a snow plow. Give the trucks space to work.
- Avoid distractions. Put the phone away. You can let your friends and relatives know you’ve made it to your destination when you get there.
- Steer clear of ramps, bridges and overpasses unless you absolutely have to drive over them. These surfaces freeze faster than other areas of roadway.
Walking on icy surfaces
Once you get to your destination, you might have to walk on an icy parking lot or sidewalk. This is, of course, unless you are lucky enough to park in a covered parking garage that leads into your building.
Follow these tips when walking on slippery surfaces.
- Wear flat-soled footwear. Don’t wear wedges or heels when the forecast calls for winter weather.
- Slow your pace. Go slowly and it could potentially prevent a serious fall.
- Keep your hands out of your pockets. This can cause problems for your center of gravity. You want to keep your center of gravity over your front leg. You can also use your arms for balance.
- Shuffle if you need to. This can help to keep you upright.
- Always use the handrail when walking up staircases and ramps.
- When walking up an icy hill on a sidewalk, it may help to walk in the grass to improve your traction.
Stay safe in freezing rain and sleet by making sure everyone in your family knows and understands these winter weather tips.
Get more winter weather safety tips from the American Red Cross.