Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Friday, January 30, 2009

Tips for Walking on Ice

Winter storms often produce ice and snow, leading to slippery walking surfaces. Here are some helpful tips to make winter weather travel safer.

  1. Before going out, try to plan your route to avoid places where ice frequently forms. Taking that shortcut you usually use might not be a good idea if it will mean traveling on paths that have untreated surfaces.
  2. Proper footwear is key. Avoid plastic and leather soles or high heels in favor of rubber and neoprene composite shoes or boots to provide better traction. Shoes or boots should have soles with a raised tread pattern on a low, wide heal and sole with a leading edge in many directions. Consider purchasing a pair of ice grippers or cleats to attach to your shoes to help with traction, but remember that these can sometimes become slippery indoors when walking on smooth surfaces such as stone, tile or ceramic. Practice putting them on your shoes and walking with them before you have to use them.
  3. When you step outside, take short, shuffling steps and use your feet and cane to explore the surface as you move to let you know ahead of time where patches of ice are before you step onto them. When it comes to walking on ice, The Tortoise and the Hare has the best advice, slow and steady wins the race. Try to keep your hands free of objects so that you can use rails and other sturdy things in the environment to help maintain your balance. When you know that a stretch of sidewalk is particularly icy, try to find a grassy shoreline to walk on for better traction.
  4. When you know that you must walk on ice, Keep your knees slightly bent and point your feet outward slightly to help maintain your center of balance. Try to keep your center of gravity directly over your feet as much as possible.
  5. If you feel yourself start to slip, try to relax and stay calm as much as possible. Try to maneuver yourself so that you don't fall forward or land on your dominant hand. Let go of whatever you are carrying in your hands so you can maintain your balance. A broken cell phone is better than a broken bone.
  6. If you know that a fall is coming, try to keep your head up and land on a fleshy body part instead of a bone. The idea here is to execute a planned fall to avoid breaking bones or hitting your head. Visit for more information on the art of safer falling and try to familiarize yourself with the techniques described there.

With some planning and care, you can help reduce your chances of serious injury from winter weather walking.

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