Safety Advice During Extreme Winter Weather
The weather has changed outside, we are being hit with gales, snow, storms and downpours. Stay safe with this no-nonsense advice.
Here’s your quick-glance checklist for common hazards during this period of wild weather.
Gale Force Winds
Pay attention to weather reports at this time of year. Listen to the radio in your car or kitchen, or bookmark a reliable website and check daily. Look out for weather warnings (yellow or red). If your running route is due to be hit by high winds, make a judgement call. Is it likely to be unsafe, due to falling or flying debris? Or – less serious, but no less damaging to your training progress – is the wind going to be so bad that it will be difficult to run in? We’re all for resistance training, but gale force winds aren’t quite what we mean!
Consider this: choosing a running route away from tall trees, staying closer to home (run loops if necessary), teaming up to run in a pair or group, or heading inside for the treadmill.
Women who run in rural, countryside areas have very different hazards to cope with at this time of year. Bad weather can mean bolting horses (with and without riders), escaped livestock including cows and sheep, and overturned farm machinery.
Consider this: sheep are likely to run away from you, so keep going but try not to startle them. If you’re faced with rams or cows, stop, keep still and let them pass. For horses (with or without riders), keep still and out of the way until they’ve passed. If you are near a farm or house, report the livestock or loose horse. Once home, call the relevant authorities so the farmer and rider can be located.
Nobody wants to be a fair weather runner, but sometimes rain is so torrential that it makes running counterproductive. If you’re heading out on a very short run, a Winter downpour might not affect you much. But if you have a long run planned, you’ll soon have sodden trainers which could lead to blisters which take days to heal.
Consider this: look for a break in the rain, if the morning or afternoon looks dry, switch your training times around. Wear as much waterproof clothing as possible. Have two pairs of trainers, so you can wear another pair whilst these ones dry.
Heavy flash rainfall can leave roads, paths and pavements flooded with surface water the next day. Running through surface water is annoying at best, and dangerous at worst. You can’t see what’s underfoot and run a higher risk of running into a pothole, landing awkwardly, or slipping.
Consider this: if overnight rainfall has left your running route underwater, head inside to do a treadmill workout, or leave it a day to see if the water drains away and dries up. If you must head out, avoid routes you don’t know well, as you won’t be able to see what’s underfoot.
Icy conditions can strike even without prior warning from weather reporters. Look out for changes in appearance and feel of pavements, roads and running tracks.
Consider this: ice doesn’t have to be thick and white. A slightly glittery look to the pavement or track is usually enough to warn us of a slippery surface. And remember that surfaces can turn icy very quickly, particularly when it’s dark, sub-zero and windy.
Debris, Hazards And Fallen Trees
High winds can leave urban running routes cluttered with roof tiles, wheelie bins, tree branches, rubbish and other dangerous debris. You might not know about this hazard until you’re face to face with it.
Consider this: know your local routes, and avoid areas with older properties, tall trees or anything else which is likely to have suffered in high winds. Run during daylight so you have a good chance of spotting potential hazards. If you see anything, move it to the side of the pavement (if it’s safe to do so) and report major obstructions to the relevant authority (don’t assume someone else has already done so).
This one little word can create hell for female runners. Wet weather, sodden running kit and cold temperatures can lead to painful chafing after even the shortest of runs.
Consider this: make sure your running kit fits well, is seamless, and doesn’t have stiff, rough edges from age. If you do have chafing, shower gently and apply a healing cream (one that’s not oily or greasy), then let the area breathe.