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Hazardous Winter Conditions Information

Be proactive and learn all you can to protect yourself and others from potential harm from hazardous winter weather.

Put Your Best Boot Forward

Choose boots that will keep your feet warm, dry, and stable in wintry conditions. Here are some resources to get started:

  • Rate My Treads has been testing winter footwear for slip resistance in different winter conditions.See how your boots or cleats/spikes match up, or to shop for a new effective pair.
  • Use ice-grip technology (see Vibram Arctic Grip and Green Diamond) containing rubber soles with binding agents and shavings of fiberglass or quartz.
    • Some brands known for safer soles, such as the kind listed above, are Sperry, Wind River, Merrell, and Hush Puppy.

Melting snow tracked in from boots makes floors indoors as slippery as the ice outside.  Stamp and wipe your feet on the entrance mats each time you enter a building to help keep everyone safe.

Prepare for Slippery Conditions

Slips can happen, even with good boots and cleared walkways.  Stay safer with these best practices.

Use Three Points of Contact

When getting in and out of vehicles, remember to use three points of contact, such as two hands and one foot, or one hand and two feet.  This gives you something to hold on to or stabilize yourself if you slip.  

When walking on steps, always use hand railings and plant feet firmly on each step.

Choose Your Path Wisely

Use designated walkways and avoid taking shortcuts.

Look out for black ice, especially early in the morning and in shady areas.

Keep Your Hands Free

Your chances of suffering an injury increase if you are carrying something in your hands, such as a purse, lunch bag, or laptop bag.  Consider using a backpack to keep your hands free to help with balance.

Walk Like a Penguin

Keep your knees bent and take slow short steps or shuffle to keep yourself on your feet.  Remember to leave early to get to where you’re going safely.  Watch this video to watch the pros at work!

Don't Be Salty

Although salt, deicers, and sand are widely used for reducing icy pathways, each has its limits.  Knowing how and when to best utilize these materials will help prevent unnecessary pollution.  Here are some facts to keep in mind.

Using a homemade brine solution on pavement before a storm can help make snow and ice removal a lot easier.  Read more in this National Geographic article

Salts and deicers stop being effective in melting ice at certain temperatures.  There’s a list of chemicals and their limits in this Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance brochure.

Salt is only effective when the air temperature is warmer than the pavement temperature.

A little salt goes a long way!  Approximately 3 inches between salt crystals is ideal.  Excess salt does not increase effectiveness and only adds to pollution, such as:

  • Permanently changing the chemistry of soil and water, which various life in the Fox Valley–including humans, pets, game fish, and plant life–depend on to survive
  • Soil characteristics change, causing compaction and/or erosion
  • Chemical and structural damages to metals and pavement, such as causing rust on cars and corrosion of pipes.


Excess sand and other abrasives used to increase traction on slippery surfaces can also cause problems, such as clogging of sewer pipes and sedimentation in waterways.

See the following resources for more information:

Salt Awareness Week Video 2021 Series by Wisconsin Salt Wise

Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance Winter Parking Lot and Sidewalk Maintenance 

Milwaukee Riverkeeper – Road Salt in Our Rivers


Hypothermia occurs when the normal body temperature (98.6°F) drops to less than 95°F. Exposure to cold temperatures causes the body to lose heat faster than it can be produced. Prolonged exposure to cold will eventually use up the body’s stored energy. The result is hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature. Hypothermia is most likely at very cold temperatures, but it can occur even at cool temperatures (above 40°F) if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat, or immersion in cold water. 

An important mild symptom of hypothermia is uncontrollable shivering, which should not be ignored. Although shivering indicates that the body is losing heat, it also helps the body to rewarm itself. Moderate to severe symptoms of hypothermia are loss of coordination, confusion, slurred speech, heart rate/breathing slow, unconsciousness and possibly death.  

First Aid 

  • Call 911 immediately in an emergency: 
  • Move the worker to a warm, dry area. 
  • Remove any wet clothing and replace with dry clothing. Wrap the entire body (including the head and neck) in layers of blankets; do not cover the face. 

Source: National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, 2018 


Frostbite is caused by the freezing of the skin and tissues. Frostbite can cause permanent damage to the body, and in severe cases can lead to amputation.  

Symptoms include development of gray/white patches on the cold, red skin of fingers, toes, nose, or ear lobes; tingling, aching, a loss of feeling, firmness/hardness, and blisters may occur in the affected areas. 

First Aid 

  • Get into a warm environment! 
  • Protect the frostbitten area from contact until medical help arrives, e.g., by wrapping loosely in a dry cloth. 
  • DO NOT rub the affected area, because rubbing causes damage to the skin and tissue. 
  • Do not apply snow or water. Do not break blisters. 
  • DO NOT try to warm the frostbitten area before getting medical help. If a frostbitten area is warmed and gets frozen again, more tissue damage will occur. It is safer for the frostbitten area to be warmed by medical professionals. 
  • Give warm, sweetened drinks if alert (no alcohol). 

Stay Safe This Winter

Report hazardous conditions in “Chat with UWO Police”

You can also see current campus conditions on the Campus News Feed on UWO Mobile!