Winter Safety

Updated January 07, 2014

Safe walking on snow and ice

  • Wear shoes or boots with slip-resistant soles, wide and low heels.
  • Consider obtaining products to attach to your shoes to improve traction when outside on ice. Two products available are YakTrax ( and STABILicers ( Warning:  Remove these products before going inside so you don’t slip and fall on the tile floor.
  • Walk like a Penquin infographic  knees slightly bent, taking small steps or shuffling. Hold your arms out instead of putting your hands in your pockets, which changes your center of gravity.  Stop periodically to reduce momentum.
  • Watch for and avoid patches of black ice or where ice is covered with snow.  Walk around these areas to find an area with better traction.
  • Report icy spots to Grounds Services at 617-253-5001.
  • When you enter a building, walk on the floor mats that absorb melting snow after a few steps. 
  • Walk around puddles on the floor and report wet floors to Custodial Services 617-253-7923
  • With a little extra care, you can have a fall free winter despite of the weather.

Safe shoveling

Watch this video of Dr. Gilllman demonstrating some of the following tips. (permission granted by Dr. Gillman) 

  • Use an “ergonomic” snow shovel that is small and light-weight. This type of shovel will make it possible for you to shovel comfortably without needing to bend as much at the waist.
  • Spray a silicone lubricant on the blade of the shovel to make the snow slide off instead of sticking.
  • Push as much of the snow out of the way as you can. It's easier on your back and uses less energy than lifting. There are even some commercially-available products that are manufactured for this purpose. 

If you must lift:

  • Pick up smaller loads of snow.
  • Lift by squatting with your legs apart, knees bent and back straight as straight as possible so that the lifting comes from your leg muscles rather than your back.
  • Move your nose with your toes, then throw the snow straight ahead. Avoid twisting when you’re holding a shovel-full of snow – this is a very common injury trigger. Instead, pivot with your feet to turn when you’re holding snow in a shovel. Do not throw snow over your shoulder or to the side because the twisting motion could harm your back.
  • Step in the direction that you're throwing snow. This will help prevent the lower back from twisting.
  • Leave some distance between the hands.This will give you more leverage and make it a little easier to lift snow.
  • It's best to shovel by sections. If you're shoveling deep snow (a foot or more) or heavy/wet snow, shovel two or three inches off at a time.
  • Start clearing snow before it becomes heavy and packed.
  • Take breaks and drink fluids to prevent dehydration.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to hire a person with a snowblower or snowplow!

Safe snow blowing


Storm Preparedness

Other tips

Frostbite and Hypothermia prevention and first aid

Carbon Monoxide


National safety Council

American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons

More than 40,000 people were injured shoveling snow or using snow blowers in 2012, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.