Walking in winter

Walking in winter

As if this year didn’t  have enough sadness and suffering, now  comes arctic air, subzero wind chills  and more snow.

What does that mean for us, here in  Chicago?   It means pay attention to the weather forecasts. Wind chills are no joke, and frostbite and hypothermia  can happen in a matter of minutes.

The National Weather Service has winter safety guidelines for those who are driving. You can read more here.

For those of us who are walking, the advice is to dress in layers and wear waterproof boots. This is good advice, but here are some more  tips for  dealing with a deep freeze–

Dress in light, non constricting layers. Mobility is important.

Cover hands  and face–that means two layers of gloves, a hat that covers your ears,  and a scarf to tie it all together.

A lightweight, windproof  parka with a hood is a lifesaver.  If you can, invest in one.  It’s  possible to find one at a  thrift store, too.

Practice mindfulness. This term is much overused, but in this case it means when you are walking, pay attention to walking. Don’t think about your grocery list.  Don’t talk on your phone.

Keep your balance. This is especially important at street corners where  the snow is piled up like mountains.

Sometimes it may seem safer to walk in the street.  After all, the roads are clear. Do not attempt this on busy streets and high traffic areas!

When crossing a street, do not rush.  Cross at the lights, even if this means walking a few blocks out of your way. Dodging traffic is risky at any time, but especially in snowy and icy conditions.

Yes, allow extra travel time. Sidewalks  may be treacherous. Busses may be delayed. Trains may have switching problems.

Above all, keep a positive attitude. We are in this together. Be warm, be safe. Be careful out there!

Filed under: seasons, weather

Tags: winter safety


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  • 1. I don't know, having escaped it one year, why we are back in the polar vortex again.
    2. The only advice I have is with respect to boots, make sure they have enough rubber tread on the soles to make sure one has traction. I had trouble getting the car to move, on fairly new tires, Sunday; just imagine if I had tried to walk on the stuff. Also, make sure not to walk into a snow pile higher than the tops of the boots.
    3. On the parka, a salesperson at a sporting goods store convinced me that the coats with the aluminum reflective linings were good for this weather, and was right.

    An aside: I got an electric ceramic heater for the bedroom, thinking I could turn down the main thermostat (also for an electric furnace), but with both the heater and furnace running at the same time last night, I doubt that I saved anything on my electric bill.

  • In reply to jack:


    El Nino last year may have been a factor for us last winter. The UK did experience the polar vortex cold.
    According to Tom Skilling, the weather pattern of cold and snow is forecast to change next week.

    You are right about the boots! Yes, big treads are very good to have.

    I am glad to hear about the effectiveness of reflective linings--stay warm!

    Oh my, the heating bills are going to be high this month...

    Thanks as always for reading!

  • In reply to Weather Girl:

    On "El Nino last year may have been a factor for us last winter" undoubtedly true, but if, including this winter (which Demetrius says isn't here yet, although Tom says it is), 3 of 4 are "normal," it's time to move to the equatorial region.

    This, though, is reminiscent of approx. 1977-1980.

  • Thank you so much for these valuable and memorable tips. They've become the only thing I let my mind stray to when I'm out walking!

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