Four tips for safe travel across campus this winter

Thirteen inches of snow followed by two days of melting before a deep freeze is hardly a recipe for smooth sailing when walking across campus. Ice has accumulated in spots despite the best efforts of facilities planning and management (FPM) staff.

Since Mother Nature rarely cooperates during Iowa winters, here are four tips for walking to class or exiting a vehicle in a campus lot.

Salt and sand at the ready. Across campus, many building entrances have salt/sand shakers for employees and students to use to treat problem areas. If more salt/sand is needed, call 294-5100.

Know your surroundings. Days are starting to get a little longer bringing more light, but many staff and employees may come and go in the dark.

"Just take a moment before you start walking to observe what is around you," said Steve Couchman, environmental health and safety (EHS) communications manager. "In parking lots, take notice of where snow is piled and know that some may have melted and refrozen over the course of the day. Also avoid shaded areas where ice is more likely to form."

Most people follow the same route to buildings each day, so be aware of any problem areas. Give your full attention to the task and avoid using a phone or other electronic devices until you are indoors.

Dress for the conditions. Proper footwear can make a big difference on slippery surfaces. Give yourself enough time to make it to your destination.

"Give yourself time so you don't have to be rushing on snow or ice," said Heather Simmons, an occupational safety specialist in EHS. "Shoes with good traction help. Avoid wearing dress shoes or heels on days you know there is going to be bad weather."

Simmons said winter is not the time to stray off sidewalks or other designated walking areas to cut through campus to make a walk shorter. What may be more convenient other times of the year can be hazardous during the winter.

Report it. FPM staff work across campus to make travel as safe as possible, but they can't be everywhere. That is where the rest of the campus community can help.

"If people see spots that are consistently icy on their routes, let FPM know so it can be addressed," Simmons said. "I have seen data that most people who slip and fall on campus don't report it, but by letting FPM know -- even if you don't want to report a fall and just a problem area -- staff can address it. It is a partnership, and we are all working together."

Any slick or other concerning areas can be reported to 294-5100.

Simmons takes all information about hazardous area reports and records it on a campus map to better deal with problem spots in the future.