How to Avoid Slipping on Ice

Now that we are fully in the grip of winter, it seems to be a perfect moment for talking about an important issue: how to survive treacherous winter walking conditions.

Nobody wants to be the students who bruise their pride on the asphalt, sending books and papers flying in the process. As a third-year veteran of North Dakota State’s icy sidewalks with (count ‘em) zero falls thus far, I feel compelled to share my winter wisdom.

There is a multitude of ways to avoid slipping, but they aren’t all created equal.

First of all, there is the option of wearing snow boots with treads that rival the nearest tow truck. But let’s be honest – those clunky boots probably aren’t going to go well with the classy outfit that you’re totally rocking.

Perhaps a better option would be to invest in Yaktrax. With the equivalent of tire chains for your feet, you can stride with confidence in any condition. But if you fear that Yaktrax might put you on the receiving end of funny looks, you could go for the more surreptitious (and cheap) option of gluing sandpaper to the soles of your shoes.

Some might prefer to take their hints from nature, and study those masters of the icy domain — the penguins. You may notice that with a waddling gait, the center of gravity is placed more directly over the foot for each step, reducing the force pushing to the sides, and thus reducing the likelihood of slipping (thank you, college physics).

However, it is perfectly understandable that most people would rather not waddle between classes.

Considering the other options, I would like to put forward my personally patented method — the flail-and-pray. This carefully devised method relies on keeping your hands out of your pockets. This lets a person begin flailing at a moment’s notice.

The process goes something along these lines: once the slipping has begun, windmill your arms wildly and begin praying to whatever beings, large or small, that might help you. It can also be helpful to release a string of choice expletives. I have had a 100 percent success rate while cursing under my breath, but you are welcome to experiment with volume levels to suit your own taste.

All joking aside, Yaktrax, snow boots, and even waddling (if you are so inclined) are all viable options to avoid slipping. If none of those sound appealing, you can always choose your shoes carefully, take small steps and be cautious. Happy trails, and may gravity be ever in your favor.

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