This is the time of year when people spend a lot of time thinking about ice. How do I drive on it? Will my driveway ever melt? How icy is my road? Is there any “ice melt” left in the stores? Will this be all we get for the season or is more coming? Not to mention the age-old mystery – what are people doing with all that bread and milk?
Then there are those talented folks who see ice as an artistic medium, and create ice and snow sculpture. There are places in the world where artistry in ice is celebrated in some spectacular ways. One of these is the International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival in Harbin, China. Each year they create entire buildings of ice, ice slides, trees, snow sculptures, food, and other festivities. At night the entire ice city is lighted.
While the ice festival is a treat to see and experience, so people prefer to get even deeper into the ice by spending their vacation in an ice hotel. Ice hotels are usually near or above the Arctic Circle, where the winter brings not only ice, but 24 hours of night, and the spectacle of the Northern Lights. Scandinavia is probably best known for their ice lodgings, but there are a few closer to home in Canada as well.
For those of us who are staying home and just trying to negotiate our driveways, though, here are a few tips for walking on ice.
- We’ve all heard about “black ice”. Assume that all wet, dark areas on pavement are slippery.
- Avoid boots or shoes with smooth soles and heels. Just like the tires on your vehicle, you want as much traction as possible on your footwear. Non-slip rubber or neoprene is best.
- When you are getting in and out of a vehicle be sure to take extra care and use the vehicle for support.
- Look ahead when you walk, and avoid snow piles and frozen areas if possible.
- Point your feet out to extend your center of gravity and extend your arms for balance. Walk like a penguin. After all, they are the experts at ice walking.
- Keep your hands out of your pockets to increase your center of gravity and your balance.
- Take short, shuffling steps and go slowly.
- Lean over a little and walk as flat-footed as possible. Ice is not the place to remember Mom’s advice to stand up straight and keep your chin up.
- Wear a bulky coat to cushion you if you do fall.
- And if you fall, try to avoid landing on your knees, wrists, or spine which are bones and more likely to break. Try to relax your muscles.
If you are taking your four legged companion with your for a walk, here are some extra tips.
- Invest in some cleats or snow boots with good traction to help keep from being pulled over.
- If your pup has long hair on his paws you may want to trim around the pads to give him more traction. The long hair collects snow and ice. But don’t trim too close, he’ll still need some protection from the cold.
- After your walk is over, wash his paws with warm water to remove any chemicals or de-icer that might make him sick if he licks it off later.
- Check his feet for cracks, sores, or other injuries. You can use petroleum jelly or balm on his feet before he goes out in the snow to help protect his feet.
Some people buy boots for their pets, or make homemade snow shoes for them.
However you prefer your ice, be safe, and enjoy the season.