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Winter + Safety + Parks = Delightful!

Everyone knows the cardinal rule of cold-weather outdoor safety: if it’s below freezing, don’t put your tongue on anything metal! Hopefully you’ve mastered that one by now. We’ve got even more ways to guard your well-being in winter, whether you’re a commuter or just passing time in a park. In addition to dressing warmly, here’s how to stay safe while you enjoy the season:

Stay off frozen lakes and ponds!

It’s great to see people enjoying the outdoors on a cold day, but when in parks with frozen lakes or ponds, please stay off the ice. While it may appear solid, it is not stable or safe. We do not recommend playing or skating on any ice in a park. If walking on trails with frozen puddles or patches, please watch your step to avoid slipping. By all means get out and enjoy the parks, but please keep yourself and your family safe around ice.

Adjust Your Bike Ride

Because it’s darker earlier, and colder, hazards for bicyclists abound this time of year. Ice on the path, shadowy obstacles, and being invisible to others are all things that could send you flying. Three important tips:

  • Slow down! Not just for your sake but for others’
  • Equip your bike or helmet with a good light
  • Increase your situational awareness

Read more about seasonal best practices and how to tweak your bike for winter safety.

Drivers: Slow Your Roll!

Driving? Remember Seattle winters are dark and wet. Most parks have a posted 20 MPH speed limit. Do your part and be extra cautious. Drive at or below the limit and keep a lookout for people who are enjoying our parks while walking and biking.

Be Light, Be Bright

Combat the visibility problem on dark mornings and late afternoons by letting others know you are there. While traveling park paths, greenways and trails this time of year:

  • Carry a light
  • Wear bright or light clothing, and/or reflective vests or strips
  • Be extra cautious when crossing in front of others

The Seattle Department of Transportation’s Vision Zero program has lots of great tips for traffic, bicycle and pedestrian safety any time of year.

Take Extra Care with Four Legged Friends

  • If you’re out playing Frisbee with Fido, keep an eye on the temperature. Pet frostbite is not uncommon when it’s freezing or below.
  • Keep pets away from antifreeze spills anywhere cars park. Animals love the taste but even a small amount can kill them.
  • Do not leave pets in a car on a really cold day.
  • Clean paws after time outdoors; this helps avoid tiny cuts and cracked pads. Also, chemicals used to melt snow and ice can burn your pet, so check the paws, mouth and belly after a walk.

Here’s a great resource on other ways to look after your furball in winter.

Falling Trees

Windstorm in the forecast? Don’t walk in forested parks. During high winds, move indoors or stay hundreds of feet away from the nearest trees. If heavy snow or ice covers the trees, it can snap branches like toothpicks – so stay out from under trees after storms. While we monitor any known hazardous trees and remove them on a prioritized schedule, it’s impossible to keep an eye on every tree in all 485 Seattle parks.

Too nasty out?

When weather threatens to sidetrack your exercise or fun regimen, our 27 community centers and 8 indoor pools can provide an outlet. Each one has a full schedule of programs and activities – and even some drop-in opportunities – to help keep you active and fend off cabin fever. Check out the offerings in our Winter Program brochures, sign up for something you enjoy, and don’t let the weather keep you down!

Pro tip: see a winter hazard on park property? Call 206-684-7250 to file a report.