Winter Snow and Ice Tips

March 5, 2012
Drawing demonstrating penguin walking
Walking like a penguin is recommended on snow and ice.

By Nancy Fox, UW Environmental Health and Safety Director

The University of Wyoming Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Department reminds everyone to be cognizant of the dangers of snow and ice while walking on the campus. Proper footwear and care in walking can minimize the potential of an ice related fall. Here are some tips to avoid injuries while walking in winter:

Walk like a penguin. Take a lot of small, slow, shuffling steps and point your feet out slightly like a penguin. Spreading your feet while walking on ice increases your center of gravity. Wearing treaded boots also is helpful.

Bend slightly and walk flat-footed, with your weight directly over your feet as much as possible. Look ahead when you walk and extend your arms out to your sides to maintain balance. Wear warm gloves so you can keep your hands out of your pockets. That way, you can use your hands to break your fall if you do slip. It also helps to stop occasionally to break your momentum.

In cold temperatures, assume all wet, dark areas on pavements are slippery and icy. Dew or water vapor can freeze on cold surfaces, forming an extra-thin, nearly invisible layer of ice that can look like a wet spot on the pavement. Approach these spots with caution.

When walking on steps, always use the hand railings and plant your feet firmly on each step.

Use special care when entering and exiting vehicles. Use the vehicle for support.

Don't rush. Plan ahead and give yourself enough time to get where you want to go.

For more information, review this fact sheet.

We encourage everyone to discuss these and other safety concerns at staff meetings, in work groups and during safety committee meetings. Be sure to report particularly icy conditions that need attention to the UW Physical Plant service desk, call 766-6225 or email

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