Woman walking her son down a snowy and icy road.
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Tips for Safe Winter Walking

Navigating Winter Walks in Canada: 10 Essential Safety Tips for Pedestrians

Chilling winds, snow-covered landscapes, and icy paths – Canadian winters offer a scenic beauty but also pose challenges for pedestrians. A single misstep can result in serious consequences. Here are detailed safety guidelines for navigating the winter wonderland on foot, along with relevant Canadian statistics.

1. Invest in Quality Winter Boots

In the Great White North, proper footwear is your first line of defense. Opt for winter boots with insulation, a waterproof exterior, lightweight design, and a robust non-slip treaded sole. This combination ensures a secure grip on snow-covered surfaces, reducing the risk of slips and falls.

2. Ice Grippers: Traction for Icy Terrains

For those traversing exclusively on ice and snow, ice grippers provide essential traction. However, exercise caution when using them on bare pavement, as they can become extremely slippery. Sit down to put them on, and wear them only in snowy conditions to prevent accidents.

3. Bring Support Along

If concerns about slips and falls linger, consider additional support. Canes, available at most pharmacies, can be equipped with attachments designed to grip and break through snow and ice. Walkers, specially adapted for winter conditions, offer stability. Hip protectors, featuring a thick foam pad, provide cushioning to minimize the risk of hip injuries.

4. Navigate Snowbanks with Care

In Canadian cities, snow removal often results in towering snowbanks, limiting visibility for both pedestrians and drivers. Approach cautiously, ensuring no oncoming cars and verifying that drivers can see you before proceeding.

5. Exercise Caution at Crosswalks

Winter weather amplifies road hazards, and cars may struggle to stop on icy surfaces. Before crossing, confirm that all vehicles have come to a complete stop. Never assume cars will yield, taking a few extra seconds to ensure safe passage.

Between 1989 and 2009, nearly 9,000 pedestrians lost their lives, and hundreds of thousands sustained injuries in road collisions across Canada. Transport Canada’s analysis of pedestrian collisions during this period uncovered a staggering statistic – 60% of the pedestrians fatally injured in traffic crashes were in the process of crossing the road.

An icy crosswalk across a Maritime road in winter.
Before crossing at an icy crosswalk, confirm that all vehicles have come to a complete stop.

6. Wear Bright Colors and Reflective Gear

Enhance visibility by donning bright colors, especially against the backdrop of white snow. At night, reflective gear becomes crucial. The reflective elements alert drivers to your presence, minimizing the risk of accidents during low visibility conditions – a common concern during winter nights.

More than half (55%) of pedestrian casualties occur at night and/or with low-light conditions, and since there are also fewer pedestrians at night they are truly over-represented in collisions during this period (CCMTA 2013).

7. Stay Informed about Weather Conditions

Keep an eye on weather forecasts, and plan your walks during optimal conditions. Extreme cold, blizzards, and freezing rain can significantly increase the risk of accidents.

8. Carry Emergency Essentials

Pack a small emergency kit with essentials like a flashlight, extra gloves, and a fully charged cell phone. In case of a slip or unforeseen circumstance, having these items on hand can make a significant difference.

9. Stay Visible in Parking Lots

Parking lots can become hazardous areas during winter. Stay visible to drivers by walking in well-lit areas and using crosswalks.

10. Mind Your Step in Transition Zones

Be cautious when transitioning from outdoor icy surfaces to indoor flooring. Snow and ice tracked indoors can create slippery conditions, posing a risk of falls.

Stay Winter-Wise, Stay Safe!

As winter lingers, exercise caution when walking, avoiding areas with visible ice and snow. Give city workers and store owners time for snow removal. Remember, sleek road conditions can be perilous for pedestrians. Avoid nighttime walks, consider bringing support, dress appropriately, and keep a cell phone handy for emergencies.


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