Walking in winter weather, including snow and ice, is something that people either have to do or like to do. But as Richland Public Health recently shared, be aware of the unique safety hazards associated with winter weather while “walking in a winter wonderland.”

In Ohio in 2016, driving in snow or freezing rain caused 13,5894 crashes that included 26 fatalities and 3,623 injuries. 140 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes that year although not all were weather-related.

“Weather can play a major role in crashes whether you are walking or driving,” said Reed Richmond, Senior Driver Instructor for AARP and a Health Educator at Richland Public Health. “Make sure you know the hazards before venturing out.”

To ensure your safety, experts advise winter walkers to remember the following tips:

If the sidewalks and walkways are impassable and you have to walk in the street, walk against traffic and as close to the curb as you can.

Proper gear is a must, but wearing dark “winter” colors can make it hard for motorists to see you, especially if they aren’t expecting you. Consider wearing a brightly-colored scarf or hat, or reflective gear, especially if you have to walk in the street. And don’t forget gloves, and shoes or boots with non-slip soles.

Snow that has accumulated into drifts can muffle the sounds of approaching motor vehicles. Wearing hats and scarves that cover your ears can also distort or even eliminate these sounds. Keep warm, but make sure you can hear what’s going on around you.

If you can, shop before the storm hits. If you have to shop, don’t buy more than you can easily carry. Remember – the streets may be slippery and carrying heavy packages can impair your balance.

When traveling with babies or small children, make sure they are dressed in brightly colored or reflective clothing. If you have to push a stroller or walk in the street, the child should be in front of you and as close to the curb as possible.

Because of road conditions, motorists may not be able to stop at traffic signals or slow down for pedestrians. Before you step off the curb into the street, make sure that any approaching vehicles have come to a complete stop.

Bending your knees a little, and taking slower steps can greatly reduce your chances of falling.

Source: Richland Public Health

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