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How To Enjoy The Snow And Ice Safely

Aug 17, 2007
It seemed so simple and routine. All Thad had to do was walk down his short driveway incline and get the morning newspaper. However, during the night a winter storm had blanketed the world in a sheet of ice.

Thad slipped and slid down the hill, but try as he might he could not climb, or even crawl, back up the small incline. He called for help, and eventually his teenaged son came to his rescue, wearing golf cleats and lugging a garden hose.

Thad only suffered a bruised ego that morning. Mrs. Burns next door was not so lucky. She fell and broke her arm.

There is nothing prettier than a frozen world twinkling in the sun, but there are also few things more treacherous.

Staying On Your Feet

* Plan ahead. If you can, shop before the winter storm hits. After the storm, don't buy more than you can easily carry.

* Stay inside when there is ice on the ground. Most people fall while getting the mail, picking up the paper, or taking out the trash.

* Be very cautious with your first step onto slick surfaces. Sometimes it's hard to detect slippery surfaces, particularly at night. Use a flashlight.

* Walking on snow or ice, take it slow. Keep your body position slightly forward and put your feet down flat, not on the heels. Bend your knees and take short, slow steps. Or, move your feet forward without lifting them from the ground.

* Always wear shoes with good traction. (Thad had on his house slippers.) Snow boots, hiking boots, and tennis shoes are the best choices. Some people prefer strap-on ice cleats, or cleated golf shoes.

* If possible, walk on the grass.

* If you must walk in the streets, be careful around intersections; cars might slide through them.

* Keep looking ahead to avoid slick spots.

Sliding And Gliding

The U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates there are over 35,000 sled injuries and 50,000 ice skating injuries each year, including many serious head injuries and some fatalities.

Sledding

* Sled on spacious, gently sloping hills. Avoid sledding on overcrowded hills.

* Check slopes for bare spots, holes, and other obstructions that could cause injury, especially hazards that might be hidden by snow.

* Avoid slopes near streets and roads where your momentum could carry you into traffic.

* Be sure there is a level run-off at the end of the slide path so the sled can glide safely to a halt.

* Do not sled at night unless the run is well lighted.

* Ride a sled sitting, or lying down with your head to the rear. Snow disks and plastic sliders are designed for upright use.

* Always wear a helmet.

* If a spill is unavoidable, roll off the sled. Remember, don't collide head first!

* After the ride down, get off the slope and use a safe path to go up.

Ice Skating

When playing on the ice, follow these general guidelines:

* Skate in special, designated areas, such as indoor and outdoor rinks, or frozen, shallow ponds.

* The Canadian Red Cross recommends eight inches of ice thickness for skating groups.

* Never skate alone. Carry a cell phone for emergencies.

* Stay off the ice during thawing periods.

* When in doubt, check with local authorities. If you can't get a ruling, stay off the ice. Have a bonfire.

* Make sure their skates fit children now. Kids lose control in skates that are too big.

* Keep blades properly sharpened.

* Always wear a helmet. Children should also wear knee pads and wrist guards.

* Try not to break a fall with your hands, which could shatter a bone. Instead, try to land on your backside.
About the Author
John Myre is the author of the award-winning book, Live Safely in a Dangerous World, and the publisher of the Safety Times Reproducible Articles..
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