The dangers of walking in a winter wonderland

February 12, 2020
Taryn Lee-Johnston

Tempting as the idea may sound, it may be rather impractical to spend all winter indoors.  In fact, you may have to spend much more of it outdoors than you’d ideally like, especially if you have young children or dogs.

Make sure your footwear has good grip

If you’re a dedicated follower of fashion (or need to look smart for school or work) then look for footwear which has good soles as well as good uppers.  If you’re not so concerned about appearances then a good pair of walking/hiking boots and/or wellingtons can be a great investment in both your comfort and your safety.

Quite bluntly, winter in the UK almost inevitably involves some degree of frost and ice and while you may try to avoid it, you’re probably going to have to deal with it to some extent.  Footwear with good grip can do a lot to help keep you upright.

Give yourself plenty of time to cross the road

Picking up from that point, give yourself plenty of time to get from A to B and, in particular, give yourself plenty of time to get across roads.  Walk, do not run, not even when you think the road is fine and not even when you’re on a crossing.  If you slip and go down on the road, a driver may not see you, not even in the daytime and especially not when it’s dark.

Be well lit

If you live in an urban area, you should, in theory, be able to rely on street lighting but given how important it is to see and be seen, it can be a very good idea to spend a little money on some personal lights, hi-vis and/or reflective clothing and a good torch, even an LED pocket torch.  That way you are always prepared and don’t have to rely on local-authority lighting.

Be careful with strenuous physical activities

When you exercise out in the cold, your body has to work not just to do the exercise, but also to keep you warm.  Now, there is some level of crossover here in that the exercise itself may generate some degree of heat, but even so, undertaking strenuous exercise in cold conditions can put a strain on your heart.  This can be bad news even for healthy individuals and people with known cardiovascular issues should take particular care.

If you need to perform outdoor tasks, such as clearing snow from a pavement, try to do so when it is as warm as it’s going to be (e.g. in the middle of the day), wrap up warm, go gently, take regular breaks and listen to your body.


Take care with alcohol

First of all, if you’re going to be drinking, think about how you’re going to get home afterwards.  Secondly, remember that alcohol can stay in your system for quite a while so make sure to give yourself plenty of time to “detox” before doing anything complicated and/or dangerous, especially driving.

Consider taking out (extra) insurance

The dangers of winter provide a good opportunity to reflect on your insurance cover and whether or not it is (still) appropriate for your needs.  In particular, you might want to think about the cover you have (or don’t have) to protect you in the event of illness or injury, either of which could result in you being unable to work for a period.  Even if you are in paid employment, with work benefits, you may find that these are not as generous as you might have liked and that therefore it would be best to boost them with private cover.