It’s a Slippery Slope: Tips to Avoid Slipping & Falling on Ice on Campus

You may be wondering how the topic for this article was realized. Well, if you are a student at McGill, I will assume that you can most certainly relate to this topic. Although this is my first winter here in Montreal (I’m from Ottawa, where the weather is quite similar), I have been particularly annoyed with the constant rises and falls in temperature. Expressing that I am annoyed is actually an understatement.

We are currently enduring the harshest portion of winter, with spring nowhere in sight. However, at times, Mother Nature seems to unfairly tease us with some warmer temperatures above zero. Despite the occasional warmth, it comes with a significant (and dangerous) cost when temperatures swiftly drop: a flash freeze. When this takes place, all of the sidewalks literally transform into mini skating canals and you will most likely witness several pedestrians unexpectedly wiping out as they are going about their days.

I personally believe this article is necessary to read as McGillians, I believe, are at a greater risk of slipping since campus is essentially on an incline. If you have any classes north of Docteur Penfield, you should keep reading this.

Below, I have devised some useful tips to avoid falling on ice on campus:

Avoid, if you can, walking downhill.

What do I mean by this? Let me provide an example: I had a class roughly near the Faculty of Law building, which is very close to the intersection of Peel and Docteur Penfield. I was walking up from Avenue des Pins to Peel, and took on the daunting feat of walking down the icy sidewalks of Peel to my class. Arguably, Peel and Avenue des Pins is one the highest points of campus and the incline downwards is scarily steep. Walking down to my class, to say the least, was a treacherous nightmare. After that experience, I devised an alternative plan for walking to class the next day in the same building. I realized that walking slightly upwards would be a safer choice than walking steeply downwards. The next day, I took a bus and the metro (which was an extra part of my typical commute) to get to Sherbrooke to walk up Peel to my class. The next day, I felt a lot safer walking to class and the walk down after class from that building to Sherbrooke was far less nerve-wracking than walking down from the top of Peel.

If the conditions are especially icy, I recommend that you do not take the risk walking down steep hills on campus. If you can, take extra time for your alternative and ideally safer routes to getting to class.

If you must walk downhill, walk down McTavish.

From the previous tip, you are probably wondering “if you walk up the hill, you will undoubtedly have to walk down the hill.” Yes, this is true. This is especially true as hopping on a bus within campus is nearly an impossibility. So if you must walk down a steep slope following your class, I would suggest doing what you can to get yourself to McTavish. From personal experience, McTavish seems to be the least icy and has appropriately salted sidewalks for pedestrians to walk on. I’m assuming this is due to the fact that McTavish is one of the busiest main streets on campus and it is anticipated that thousands of students and staff will walk the length of it at some point during the day.

Wear “Crampons” or other traction devices for your winter boots.

Unquestionably, Montreal is one of the trendiest and hippest cities in the country. Many Montrealers value fashion and style. But let’s be honest, when it is -30°C with the wind-chill and the entire city is practically a skating rink, fashion is the least of my worries. If you share this similar mentality, get yourself a pair of Crampons or any other version of a traction device for your boots. They actually don’t look too bad once they are on, and they can actually offer an edginess to your winter look. Once again, from personal experience, they do make a drastic difference when you are trudging along an icy surface. They are also rather affordable. You can find them at your local Jean Coutu for around $20.

Lastly, walk slowly.

This final tip seems quite obvious, but as students, getting to class on time can be a stressful experience and this stress is only exacerbated in the winter. Nonetheless, getting to class safely ought to be prioritized as well. Whether you are walking uphill or downhill, walk at your own pace and keep an eye out for ice! Avoid texting or staring down at your phone when you are travelling along slippery surfaces on campus. Don’t worry about those behind you who may evidently be annoyed by your slower pace. They should be thanking you for setting the pace for everyone behind you and allowing everyone to be safer on the ice. If they wish to pass, they can do so.

Life as a student is already stressful enough, and you really don’t need the added stress of preventable pain and injury. With this, stay safe out there, McGillians. Have a chill (no pun intended) rest of the semester!


Image obtained from: