Yesterday, I posted an album of pictures on a social network, after the sun was bright and skies were clear, beaming out the glitter and glow of the snow from two days before that. Whilst in that joy, I did not warn that those scenic vistas were traps for a Monday morning.
After such a beautiful day, with sun and snow, the temperature does go up slightly. And since it is Gothenburg, within a few hours it reverses to just a couple of degrees around zero. This shuttling of the temperature melts the lovely snow, and forms thin, bumpy layers of ice.
This is a treacherous ploy of nature, because the proverbial walking on thin ice, does not only hold good when walking on thin ice over a lake, but also when there’s thin ice on streets. I know a handful of people within the duration of my stay in Sweden, who have succumbed to this ploy and have ended up with more fragments of their skeleton than before the fall, by tripping, slipping and crashing on ice!
In this post, the rookie me, will try to capture some tips and techniques that can reduce the risk of you not fragmenting your bones. Needless to say, these might not necessarily be accurate to all. Seems to work for me 😉
Are you one of those creatures, who flaunts in vanity that you can walk faster than almost everyone around you? I am one such megalomaniac, and under normal conditions, it holds true. Try catching up when I am walking alone. Given this is the case, there is no better braking mechanism than the slushy, bumpy, icy streets. When icy, walk slow!
Watch every step
Walking slowly gives you time to plan, and plant your feet for the next step. It is a maze of sorts to walk under the conditions under consideration. It takes extra effort to solve this puzzle of where to land next.
There are three kinds of terrain usually –
Region 1: The icy segments, usually on the center of the mildly convex streets. These are the most dangerous places to be in. Avoid them, unless there is ample gravel, and clear spots without the milky portions of slippery ice.
Region 2: Towards the edges of the convex streets, due to the design for draining water and the extra gravel that gets sedimented, you can hope for clear regions, where you can do a tight walk on rope of sorts and survive.
Region 3: Thirdly, the portions on the grass, say, or regions where there is still fresh snow! You can never slip on snow, and even if you do, it will cushion you, unlike the unpardoning icy roads. I usually do this. I don’t mind drenching my feet to a small degree, and end up walking on fresh (or gray) snow! Remember, it must be snow, not ice!
Do Not Run
Needless to say, under no circumstances should you run, not even to catch that bus which is leaving right in front of you.
Now that I think about it, there aren’t any adrenaline pumping chases in any movies, on icy winter roads. It will be less of an action sequence, and more of a laugh riot.
In case you are being chased by a Swede, which is one of the most unlikely events in the Universe, you needn’t risk it by trying to flee. They can navigate seamlessly and hence have a certain chance of nabbing you. Give up already.
Our gait, through evolution has been designed to place our body’s center of gravity forward – so that we can walk forward, with lesser effort instead of having to drag oneself. Remember those steep uphill climbs? That is because you are now trying to drag yourself, and on the other hand, downhill is not easy either – your balance is tipped. This is pretty much what happens when you are walking on ice.
Who better than Nature to teach you how to walk – look at penguins – that’s the way we should walk. Their gait is evolved to walk on conditions we are helplessly trying to avoid here. As a human example, you could think of walking like Chaplin’s Tramp! Those broad and wide steps, feet almost perpendicular to your intended direction of motion, and yes a stick will help too!
All said and done, it might be a good experience to trip and fall on ice, but without taking permanent damage. Happy Ice-Walking 😉