September 29, 2020

BY KRISTIN MILANI

When the dreadful season of winter rolls around every year, the battle of style versus practicality, when it comes to what you put on your feet, arises. The Region of Waterloo’s new campaign, Get a Grip, is here to help make the choice a little easier.

Being fashionable is important to many people but in the winter, proper footwear is crucial to ensure safety. When the temperature drops and the ground turns into a sheet of ice, wearing high fashion shoes might lead to an injury.

Salt goes a long way in snow and ice control, but people should also do their part so that it isn’t overused. It has a negative impact on the environment, outdoor structures, vegetation, motor vehicles and even the water we drink.

Get a Grip encourages people to purchase boots with proper tread to avoid serious injuries that can come out of slipping on icy surfaces. Not only will they keep you safe, they will keep your feet warm, reducing the risk of frostbite.

Leanne Lobe, supervisor of source water protection for the region, thinks the program is a good start to encourage the public to take responsibility for their own safety.

“You will enjoy winter and stay safe when you’re dressed for the weather,” she said.

When people wear improper footwear and become injured from falling on ice, they sometimes take legal action against property owners because they believe they are completely at fault.  This is what causes the over application of salt.

Eric Hodgins, manager of hydrogeology and source water protection with the region, says many people get caught up in their daily tasks, leading them to choose the wrong footwear.

“They may inadvertently wear indoor shoes or boots not designed for walking in slippery conditions because that is the footwear they will need for the day, forgetting that they might have a short walk in the snow,” he said.

Hodgins believes Get a Grip is a fantastic campaign that embeds the traction concept of footwear.

“It will help promote health and safety for businesses, provide an important message to change the behaviour of residents and will hopefully lead to reduced application of salt thereby protecting our drinking water,” he said.

The region has also implemented the Smart about Salt program to provide residents and property owners with information on how to get through winter with salt the best and most effective way possible.

To learn more about Smart about Salt and Get a Grip, to become Smart about Salt certified or to get tips on salt use and winter safety, visit www.smartaboutsalt.com