3 tips to walk on ice: walk like a penguin

Javier Zarracina/Vox

With a polar vortex looming over the Midwest, it's a good time to stay inside. But if you have to go outside, keep in mind that walking on icy surfaces requires special attention to avoid slipping and falling.

Falls are the third-leading cause of unintentional deaths. With snow and ice affecting the North East for the next several days, it's good to have a plan to stay upright. And it's an easy plan, too: Walk like a penguin.

Does it look silly to waddle down the street? Absolutely. But give it a shot — penguins, after all, have a decent amount of experience holding their own on ice and might have a thing or two to teach us.

Keep your knees loose. Extend arms to the side to keep your balance and lower your gravity center. Keep your hands out of your pockets, so you can break your fall with your hands if you start to slip. Spreading your feet out slightly— like a penguin— while walking on ice increases your stability.

When we walk, our legs’ ability to support our weight is split mid-stride. To walk on ice, keep your center of gravity over your front leg. Take short steps or shuffle for stability.

If you fall backwards, make an effort to tuck your chin, so your head won’t hit the ground. Also, try to form a ball and relax the muscles. You will injure yourself less if you are relaxed. Also wearing a heavy, bulky coat will cushion you if you should fail.

The keys to the penguin walk are simple: Extend your arms (er, wings) out to your side, bend your knees, and shuffle side to side as you move forward (rather than taking big steps). All of this will help maintain your center of gravity in a treacherous climate — the type of environment that penguins have existed in for centuries.

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