Snow safety tips for walking and shoveling

Wednesday January 23, 2013

BRATTLEBORO -- Be cautious while walking around and shoveling snow in the winter.

"A lot of people concentrate on driving and not on walking," said Sheri Singer, of the Snow and Ice Management Association.

She added that people need to become aware of ice when walking in inclement weather.

President of Green Stripes Landscaping Matthew Abair, who works out of Waterbury and is affiliated with SIMA, plows properties. His team comes up with a game plan that includes finding the best spots to put the snow. They try to point out dangerous places that property owners should be aware of.

"We had someone slip on one of our properties," said Abair. "He came right behind us on our second round of salt because the first round wasn’t working well. He slipped and fell. He was all right but you hate to see that happen."

Abair calls himself a snowcare provider and thinks "like someone who’s not thinking they’re walking on ice."

"Biggest thing to remember is to walk like a penguin, not like an Egyptian," he said. "You step differently, you almost waddle on ice. It gives you better balance. When checking on properties, I’m not thinking about that. I try to prepare the property the best I can, to eliminate any possibility that a person can slip."

Also, as a firefighter, Abair has seen his fair share of car accidents. He said that he’s seen many people slip and fall because of ice.

"Nothing that hurt too badly," he said.

Here are 10 tips from SIMA for walking safely in snow or ice:

1. Wear proper footwear. Abair said that his company tries to recommend that people wear boots into work and change into shoes when they get there.

"It helps with the salt and everything else that’s out there. Plus, salt eats right at the shoes’ traction," said Abair.

2. Wear sunglasses and bright clothing so drivers can see you.

3. Plan ahead. Look up, instead of looking down, so you can anticipate ice or an uneven surface.

"You got to kind of watch where you’re going," said Abair. "Choose the best path. And if you can avoid ice, then go another route. If there’s clearly a sheet of ice, walk in the snow. At least there is traction in the snow."

4. Make sure you can hear. Avoid listening to loud music.

5. Anticipate ice. Be weary of thin sheets of ice that may appear as wet pavement (black ice.) Often ice will appear in the morning, in shady spots or where the sun shines during the day and melted snow re-freezes at night.

6. Take the steps slow. When walking down steps, be sure to grip handrails firmly and plant your feet securely on each step.

7. Enter buildings carefully. The floors may be wet from melted snow and ice.

8. Be careful when you shift your weight. When stepping off a curb or getting into a car, be careful since shifting your weight may cause an imbalance and result in a fall.

9. Avoid taking shortcuts.

10. Look up. Be careful what you walk under.

Here are eight tips to remember when shoveling this winter:

1. Stay on top of the snow. Clear the snow every few inches instead of waiting for the snow to stop falling before you head outdoors.

2. Wear breathable layers and loose articles of clothing that can be removed if it gets too warm.

3. Watch your feet. SIMA suggests wearing quality winter wear such as waterproof boots with good traction.

4. Take a few minutes to stretch before starting.

5. Push the snow to the side rather than trying to lift the snow to remove it. Turn and set the snow down.

"We try to teach the guys a safe way to shovel. You lift with your legs, not your back," said Abair. "When shoveling, a lot of people tend to throw the snow. It’s really not that good for you. It pulls your back muscles. You could injury your back."

6. Drink water to hydrate yourself.

7. Don’t play in traffic and pay attention to where you’re walking.

8. Have a phone on you in case of an emergency, so you can call or text for immediate help.

For more snow and ice removal tips, visit

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.


If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.

Powered by Creative Circle Media Solutions