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Winter Walking Tips

Winter Walking Tips: Lower Your Risk of Falling

​​​​​​Falls can be serious. Falling can cause bruises, sprains, or more serious injuries like broken bones or concussions.

Melting snow can freeze overnight, forming a thin layer of ice that is hard to see. The ground can then become very slippery in the morning when the ice starts to melt. In months where the ground is frozen, ground frost and ice can make it slippery for walking. No matter how well the snow is removed from parking lots or sidewalks, there will still be slippery places.

What you wear on your feet can help lower your risk of falling. Boots or shoes that fit well and have a good grip are the best choice. Special items like shoe grips or ice cleats can give you extra traction when you’re walking on snowy or icy surfaces. You can buy these items from places like department or sporting goods stores. Always take off these grips or cleats when walking inside because they can make you slip on indoor flooring.

How can I avoid slipping and falling on snow or ice?

  • Find a path around snow or ice when you can.
  • Learn how to Walk Like a Penguin (video)​—walk slowly, take small steps, and point your toes out slightly to be more stable on icy paths.
  • Keep your head up and don’t lean forward.
  • Keep your hands out of your pockets to help keep your balance.
  • If you use a cane, you can buy an ice pick for the cane.

More tips for winter walking

  • Plan ahead to make sure you have enough time to get where you’re going.
  • Assume that all wet, dark areas on the pavement may be slippery or icy. If you can, walk around them.
  • Walk on cleared walkways—avoid shortcuts that haven’t been cleared.
  • Download a local weather app on your phone (such as Government of Canada Weather Alerts) so you know what the weather is like before you go outside.
  • Don’t text or talk on your phone and walk at the same time.
  • Use handrails on stairs and ramps. If you’re walking on a slope where there are no handrails, be extra careful.
  • Spread sand or grit on your steps and walkways. You could also try carrying a small container of sand or grit to sprinkle on icy or sloped surfaces that you can’t walk around.
  • Try not to carry heavy things that can make you lose your balance, or large things that could block your view. If possible, use a backpack to keep your hands free.

Current as of: March 18, 2019

Author: Fall Risk Management Program, Alberta Health Services