Monday, January 18, 2016

Cold Weather - Walking Safely On Snow And Ice

This post is for people who are not used to dealing with cold weather, and are getting lots of it due to climate change. They may not know how to deal with cold weather safety issues. 

Even if you live in a desert area, you need to know some basics, because our weather is going to be less dependable and predictable from now on. 

When I moved to Alaska and lived in snow, I fell down a lot. I knew an Alaskan Native elder, so I asked her how to walk safely on slippery ice and packed snow. 

Alaskan Natives are descended from many generations of people who lived through a lot of slippery conditions, so they are real experts. 

She told me that her elders told her to take baby steps, and, "Don't pick up your feet", shuffle, in other words. 

I tried it immediately and it does work well. It works even better if you make sure your footwear has some traction. 

The common way of getting traction on your footwear is to use, "ice cleats". There are other terms for them, but you are stuck with the one I use for now. If you want to look up, "ice cleats", the internet will give you other words for them. 

There are different kinds of ice cleats that you can buy. The main types are something rubbery, chain types and spike types. There are variations on these that don't precisely fit these categories, but here is a link making comparisons to give you an idea:

The ones in the above link are mostly intended for winter athletes or climbers. They are often used by people who only want to get down the street safely. 

The rubbery type are made of heavy stretchy rubber that you pull on to slip over the soles of your footwear. I hate pulling them over my footwear, because you have to use a lot of strength to get them on and off and they also slip off too easily and you then have an ice cleat instead of cleatS. This is better than nothing, but not great. Then you get to go buy another pair. 

The Yaktrax are sort of like walking on little springs. I don't like putting those on and taking them off either and they cost more to replace than the rubbery ones. They also make a lot of noise when you walk. 

It is a lot cheaper to make your own ice cleats and you can get them the way they suit you. You can also use what you have around and don't have to try to get safely to a store to buy them.

This link is on a site called, "Instructables". I like it very much because it tells you step-by-step how to do lots of very useful things. There are other Instructables on how to make other types of ice cleats. One of them uses stuff like tape and staples, so you don't need a lot of tools or know-how to make most of them. 

Once you look at a few Instructables on how to make your own ice cleats, you might be inspired to do it another way. If you do that, you can then make your own Instructable. They do have lots of contests on the site for submitting your Instructable to. You then have a chance to win great prizes. 

Youtube also has how to make ice cleats. I don't like this as much as Instructables because lots of youtube posters do not have supplies and tools lists and you have to keep running the video back and forth to get them all down. 

Many ice cleats are not compatible with flooring. If you survive the slippery ice because of your ice cleats, you risk getting killed by a store manager or homeowner if you wear the ice cleats on their floor. 

That means wearing ice cleats makes life much easier if the ice cleats are easy to get on and off quickly. Velcro closures for the ice cleats are good for this purpose. 

There are a lot more things to know about ice cleats and dealing with cold weather. You can find some of them in my blog posts. Be safe and try to stay warm and comfy. 

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