Safely walking in wintry weather
March 1, 2023
We want it to be spring, but Alaska will continue experiencing icy sidewalks and slick roads for weeks. However, you can still get excellent exercise by walking safely and making yourself more visible to drivers.
Wearing items that make you more visible, such as reflective tape, helps drivers see you in the dark. Center for Safe Alaskans is giving out free reflective tape by mail. To request reflective tape, call 907-929-3939 or visit the center's website at https://safealaskans.org/reflectivetape/. A grant from the Alaska Highway Safety Office funds this project.
You can use reflective tape on many surfaces. Stick it on backpacks, coats, strollers, dog leashes and helmets. You can also use it on canes, walkers, wheelchairs and other mobility devices. Attaching it to body parts that move, like arms and legs, is most effective.
Safe walking tips
Besides reflective tape, here are several walking safety tips.
Be mindful of your surroundings. Watch out for ice and slick, packed snow.
Wear weather-appropriate shoes and clothing. Consider using ice grippers.
Take your time. Avoid falls by giving yourself extra time to get to your destination, especially with ice.
Stay off freeways and restricted zones.
Cross and enter streets where it's legal, preferably at a crosswalk.
Avoid using alcohol and drugs before you walk.
Before crossing a street, ensure drivers see you. Stay away from buses, hedges, parked cars or other obstacles.
Always walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, walk facing oncoming traffic.
Always look before you cross the road.
Watch out for cars backing out of parking lots and driveways.
Look extra carefully when a driver makes a right turn. Drivers often only look at traffic coming from the left. Make eye contact before entering the intersection. You can smile and wave to ensure a driver sees you.
Make yourself more visible to drivers. Use lights and reflective materials.
Katey Redmond is the senior program manager at the Center for Safe Alaskans.