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8 winter safety tips for pedestrians

Winter couple walking
Written by Sybil Millar

With winter in full swing, getting around the city on foot has become a little more difficult. Roads and sidewalks are slippery, snowstorms can make it hard to see and there are fewer hours of daylight. While we are all at risk when crossing the street (pedestrian injury does not discriminate based on age, gender or ability), seniors remain at much higher risk of being injured in a vehicle-pedestrian collision. In fact,  60% of pedestrians killed last year in Toronto were seniors.

Combine these higher risk factors for seniors with dangerous winter conditions, and you can see why it’s so important for elderly pedestrians to take some precautions. Sarah Gallsworthy, Program Coordinator at Sunnybrook’s RBC First Office for Injury Prevention, has eight simple tips to keep pedestrians, particularly elderly ones, safe this winter:

1) Stay off your phone while walking– distracted walking is dangerous!

2) Be visible to drivers day and night by wearing bright, reflective items. Add a reflective sticker or patch to your jacket and bag

3) Wear proper and well-maintained footwear to reduce your risk of falling on slippery surfaces

4) Plan your outings– try to schedule outings during daylight hours and good weather conditions. Give yourself more time when traveling during the winter, so you don’t have to dart through traffic to catch the bus!

5) Be as light as possible– avoid carrying things that could make you lose your balance while walking

6) Don’t jaywalk– only cross at intersections with traffic signals, marked crosswalks or stop signs

7) Make eye contact with drivers before stepping off the curb- slippery road conditions means it may take drivers longer than usual to stop. Wait until vehicles have come to a complete stop before starting to cross the street

8) Keep your head up! Avoid looking at something other than the direction you’re traveling in

Do you have an elderly family member or friend who could benefit from these tips? Please pass them along, and help keep pedestrians safe this winter.

About the author

Sybil Millar

Sybil Millar is the Communications Advisor for Infection Prevention and Control, Infectious Diseases, the Ross Tilley Burn Centre and the Critical Care program at Sunnybrook.

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