It seems obvious that walking on ice is dangerous and we should take extra cautions when doing so. However, the number of injuries and attempts to walk on ice dramatically increase in bad weather. Often times, people slip on “black ice” and do not even know it is there.  The vast majority of people do not know how to properly walk on ice. Keep in mind that in most states one cannot sue anyone if they fall and get hurt on a natural accumulation of ice and/or snow.

First, what is “black ice” and when should we expect to encounter it? The American Meteorological Society Glossary of Meteorology states that black ice “a thin sheet of ice, relatively dark in appearance,

[that] may form when light rain or drizzle falls on a road surface that is at a temperature below 0 °C.”  Because it is only a thin accumulation, black ice is usually transparent and thus difficult to see compared to snow, frozen slush, or thicker ice layers. This makes walking, driving, cycling on affected surfaces extremely dangerous. We should assume that when the weather conditions are as noted that there is black ice.

Second, how should we walk on ice?  I have included a link to a wonderful PDF that give outstanding tips on ice safety and how best to walk. I encourage everyone to open and read it here: .

Notably, this penguin walk is almost identical to how we as Aikido martial art’s instructors teach people to walk or maneuver when doing self defense. You see, when we walk normally, we are always in the position of almost falling with one foot/leg catching us before we fall. Our center of gravity shifts up and down and back and forth like an elliptical orbit. Imagine an egg rolling end over end. That is how our center of gravity shifts. And our balance goes from the little toe to the big toe, our center zigs and then zags. How we walk therefore makes us very vulnerable to falling when on ice or unstable ground. Very similar to how the document herein teaches folks, we tell people when walking to slightly bend their knees and glide along using the balls of their feet and not allow their heels to touch the ground, at the same time keeping their  arms somewhat wide. In other words, we need to move from our hip and glide, keeping our center of gravity lower and more stable. This “walk” allows us to far better maintain our balance in party by eliminating the  significant weight shifting we usually have, all of which is causes most falls.

Hopefully these tips will help you and your loved ones make it through the winter with minimal problems and no injuries.