ice

– slippery when wet or near freezing.

This post is for the hard core walkers out there – of which I am one.

Somedays there is no way around the fact that a walk needs to take place in less than optimal weather conditions. Today’s walk  was one of those. The Chicagoland weather was a cold 34 degrees, with an intermittent drizzle. Along the park path there were several unmelted snow piles situated here and there. Adding to the potential hazards was the time of day –  early in the morning, which increases the likelihood of black ice lurking about.

Armed (or footed) with my Yaktrax, I wasn’t about to give up the walk.

I’ve noticed, in cold temperatures, I need to be cautious and assume that all wet, dark areas on pavements are slippery and icy. It seems that water vapor can freeze on cold surfaces, forming an extra-thin, nearly invisible layer of ice that looks like a wet spot on the pavement – black ice.

Making sure to walk on the cleared path as much as possible,  I remain focused and try to always look ahead when I walk. If there is a snow pile on the path –  I look for an edge, especially if I am unsure of the footing and need traction. Sometimes I just have to watch where I am stepping and GO S-L-O-W-L-Y !! This definitely helps my reaction time when there are changes in traction. There may be times when it is better to take short steps or shuffle for stability when it’s very icy; it might even help to stop occasionally to break momentum.

There are also some body mechanics I find helpful… I try to keep a slight bend at the waist and walk flat-footed, with my center of gravity directly over my feet. I pay attention to my sense of balance at all times. I make sure to leave my hands and arms free to balance myself if I should slip or misstep. I never leave the house without gloves or mittens because I do not want to keep my hands in my pockets while walking. When my hands are out of my pockets my center of gravity is lower and my balance increases. More importantly, I can break my fall if my hands are free and I do start to slip.

Without a doubt, it is always safer to avoid an outdoor walk when there is the possibility of black ice or any ice.

But, if the outdoors beckons…

                                               Caution Watch For Ice Sign
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