Snow & Ice Safety Tips

Helpful Suggestions from the Facilities Services Department

How can I walk safely in snow/ice conditions?

  • Allow ample time to walk from your car to class.  In slippery conditions, it is imperative that you take care to slow down and avoid walking in areas that have yet to be cleared or treated.
  • Avoid areas that have been blocked off/barricaded by Grounds Services personnel.  These barricades are placed to prohibit access to walkways, stairs, ramps, etc. that have not yet been treated, or are historically very difficult to keep free of snow and ice due to their locations (i.e. stairs/walks with a northern exposure are particularly challenging to maintain, as they receive very little direct sun during winter months.)  The barricaded areas are intended to protect our campus community members; please do NOT move or walk over/around a barricade.
  • Hold onto hand rails while going up and down outdoor stairways. Even though it is a priority for our Grounds Services personnel to diligently clear and treat all stairways, frigid temperatures can limit the effectiveness of salt, calcium, etc.  Hence, areas that have been recently treated can sometimes still have icy spots.
  • Wearing dark colors can make it difficult for motorists to see you. Wear a brightly-colored scarf or hat or reflective gear, especially if you have to walk in the street.
  • Walking on snow or ice is especially treacherous and wearing proper footwear is essential. A pair of well insulated boots with good rubber treads is a must for walking during or after a winter storm. Keeping a pair of rubber over-shoes with good treads which fit over your street shoes is a good idea during the winter months. Avoid wearing shoes with plastic or leather soles in slippery conditions.
  • When walking on an icy or snow-covered walkway, take short steps and walk at a slower pace so you can react quickly to a change in traction. Bending your knees a little and taking slower steps can greatly reduce your chances of falling.
  • Snow and ice may keep motorists from stopping at traffic signals or slowing down for pedestrians. Before you step off of the curb into the street, make sure that any approaching vehicles have come to a complete stop.
  • During the daytime, wear sunglasses to help you see better and avoid hazards..

Driving safely in winter weather

  • Clear your car completely of snow - all windows, the front and back windshields, the lights and the roof. Blocks of snow and sheets of ice can fall down while you drive, if you neglect to remove them.  It can fall and cover your windshields, which makes it hard to see, or it can hit the car behind you. Be sure that your lights are unobstructed so that you can see everything, and so that others can see you. Keep a snow brush and/or ice scraper in your car, so you can do this wherever you're leaving from
  • Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
  • Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.
  • Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists, even during the daylight hours.
  • Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
  • Don't use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.
  • Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.
  • Don't pass snow plows and sanding trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and you're likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.
  • Don't assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads.

What safety precautions can I take if I must drive in a winter storm?

 Winterize your car. Inspect the vehicle prior to winter weather travel to ensure the following systems are operating properly:

  • Brakes: Brakes should provide even and balanced braking. Also check that brake fluid is at the proper level.
  • Cooling System: Ensure a proper mixture of 50/50 antifreeze and water in the cooling system at the proper level.
  • Electrical System: Check that battery is fully charged and that connections are clean. Check that the alternator belt is in good condition with proper tension.
  • Engine: Inspect all engine systems.
  • Exhaust System: Check exhaust for leaks and that all clamps and hangers are snug.
  • Tires: Check for proper tread depth and no signs of damage or uneven wear. Check for proper tire inflation.
  • Oil: Check that oil is at proper level.
  • Visibility Systems: Inspect all exterior lights, defrosters (windshield and rear window), and wipers. Install winter windshield wipers

If you would like more information on MSU's Snow & Ice Removal strategies, please visit our website.  

Sources:

http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/emergencypreparedness/guides/winterstorms.html
http://www.weather.com/activities/driving/drivingsafety/drivingsafetytips/snow.html
http://hubpages.com/hub/winterdrivingsafety