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To stay safe on snow or ice, walk like a penguin

To stay safe on snow or ice, walk like a penguin
February 5, 2021 Mark Malone

To stay safe on snow or ice, walk like a penguin

Walk like a penguin.

Sounds funny, right? But think about it.

Penguins are seasoned veterans walking on snow and ice. Maybe we could learn something from them.

Slips and falls happen when we try to walk when the pavement is clear and dry, but the way we typically walk with one leg in front of us and one leg trailing is inherently unstable on slippery surfaces. Our weight pushes our feet outward along the surface of the ice.

By keeping our center of gravity directly above one flat foot, we use our own weight to pin down our foot, preventing slips and falls. Keeping our arms out not only improves our balance, but it also means we can catch ourselves if we do fall.

Winter weather can be beautiful, but it can also be dangerous. Just like adjusting to driving on the snow and ice, we need to remember how to walk on the snow and ice.

Tips to remember:

  • Wear shoes/boots that have good traction – Avoid shoes with smooth soles. Consider carrying your work shoes with you while wearing your boots.
  • Walk with a broad base – Bend your knees slightly and take short, slow steps with your feet pointed outward to decrease the chance of slipping and falling. Walk flat footed not heel toe — think Penguin.
  • Slow down – Walk slowly to help identify slippery spots. Be alert to hazards.
  • Avoid distractions – Stay off cell phones while trying to walk on slippery areas.
  • Hands free – Keep hands out of pockets to help balance yourself. Extend them out to your sides to help you keep your balance – like walking a tight rope.
  • Use floor mats – When entering a building, remember to use the floor mat to stomp the snow and ice off your shoes to prevent creating a slippery spot.
  • Get your footing first – When stepping out of a vehicle, step down lightly initially to access the area then step straight down flat footed. Use the vehicle door to help balance yourself.
  • Keep your center of gravity – With each step, keep your center of gravity above your front leg. Normally, we put our leading foot out and let it pull us forward. When you penguin walk, keep your body directly above your foot as you place it.

So what happens if you have done all the safety tips and you still feel yourself start to fall? Try to tuck your chin so that your back, not your head will hit the ground first. Also try to twist or roll on your side to help spread the impact of the fall and not just have the impact of the force of your fall on one body area increasing the chances for injury.

Plan Ahead-Pay Attention-Slow Down for a safe winter season!