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Winter is coming… and it is expected to be the most savage winter in more than 50 years. Meteorologists are warning that we could face months of heavy snowfall and icy arctic winds for several months starting as early as the end of the month. The crisis is sparked by the plummeting temperatures of the Atlantic Ocean which are the root cause.

Emergency services are preparing for a repeat of the 1962 winter. Local authorities across Scotland have increased their gritting fleet by over 25%. Energy companies are working hard to ensure we have sufficient power supply. Airports and train stations prepare for mass disruption. But when we’re not used to such harsh conditions and with no huskies on standby how should you prepare?

 Last week we covered driving in winter. This month we focus on pedestrian safety. Around 13% of adults walk to work and over 50% of children walk to school and back each day. With the government keen to increase these numbers and the ongoing drive to reduce our carbon footprint what steps can pedestrians take to stay safe this winter?

  • It can be tempting to walk on the road where the pavements are icy or covered in snow. This is best avoided but if it is the only option you should walk into the kerb and against the flow of traffic.
  • Where possible make sure you and your children wear bright reflective clothing. In those cold winter mornings it can be very difficult for motorists to see you.
  • Ice can be invisible so assume it’s there rather being surprised.
  • Make sure your clothing doesn’t restrict your vision. It is important to stay warm but it is more important that you can see hazards such as cars or ice.  Don’t impair your vision with hoodies, ski masks, scarves, hats, etc
  • If you can’t avoid the ice and snow, bend your knees slightly and take slower, shorter steps to help reduce the chance of a slip and fall and an injury.
  • If you are not familiar with the pavement take particular case as beneath the snow there could be potholes etc.
  • Ditch the stilettos and dig out the UGGs. Make sure you are wearing appropriate footwear which has good traction.
  • Avoid pushing young children in buggies/prams if at all possible. If you must push your child in buggies/prams on the ice, take great care and walk extremely slowly.
  • Steps and stairs are a particular hazard. Walk slowly and take shorter steps when descending. Use the handrails and only move one leg at a time.  The same is true of driveways and other hilly terrain.
  • Beware of overhead hazards. Falling icicles and chunks of ice claim lives each year. Stay clear of edges of buildings.
  • During winter it is particularly important to use pedestrian crossings as drivers have reduced visibility and will be less aware of your presence.
  • Be careful exiting vehicles. The ground may be slippery, particularly the ground between the road and pavement or car parks.
  • Don’t walk with your hands in your pockets, walk with your hands out and wear gloves so you can break your fall if you do slip.
  • Elderly pedestrians should take extra precautions and may wish to avoid going out in inclement weather. They should ensure to take walking sticks etc if required.
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