Everybody likes looking at a winter wonderland. Walking in one is a different story. Sidewalks quickly turn slushy and slick, and stairs become dares. Even in the aftermath of this latest snow bust, lingering frigid temperatures have made conditions more treacherous than normal. So what’s a pedestrian to do — other than fall down?
The Snow & Ice Management Association has helpfully released a list of walking tips. Many of the pointers from snow-business professionals are common-sense advice for a stroll in any weather: Watch where you’re going and make sure you can hear oncoming traffic. To be extra careful on an icy day, avoid shortcuts across untreated surfaces, grip handrails as you head down steps and pay attention to your footing whenever you get out of a car or off of a curb.
You’d be surprised by how many people forget to take these simple steps, says the association’s chief operating officer, Brian Birch.
“The challenge is that people expect to go about their daily lives,” Birch says. “But snow and ice are dangerous.”
They can also be a lot of fun, however, says Ian Litmans, the manager of operations and events at REI’s Rockville store. The key to enjoying the outdoors instead of fearing it is dressing appropriately, starting with your feet.
“I think we all like to be comfortable. That’s human nature,” says Litmans, who recommends wearing heavier-duty snow boots or waterproof hiking boots for treks to and from the Metro. He suggests packing your work shoes so you can change once you get to the office. Many boot styles are suitable for business-casual offices, but “they can be toasty and heavy to walk around in all day.”
When sidewalks feel like skating rinks, you can get a grip by using traction devices that attach to the bottoms of shoes, Litmans adds. Several manufacturers make the products, which start at around $20. (“They won’t let you go skipping down the way, but you won’t slip,” he says.) The most aggressive model, he says, are the Kahtoola Microspikes ($65), which would utterly destroy hardwood floors.
Another option: trekking poles. The sharp points at the ends help Litmans’ father-in-law keep his balance, and they collapse down, so they’re not such a burden to tote around.
While you’re thinking about what to wear, Litmans also suggests slipping on a pair of gloves. Not only will they keep your hands warm, but they’ll also minimize scratches if you do fall over.
With these accessories and warm apparel, you should be able to handle anything winter throws your way. Unless, of course, you’re the Loudoun County jogger who was smacked by a flying deer last weekend after a car hit the animal. “We carry no deer-resistant layers,” Litmans says.