Keeping Safe in Winter

Daylight savings time has now ended in Norway and we are moving towards shorter days and longer nights. Here are some tips to keeping safe and visible, especially if this is your first experience of winter.

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Getting Rid of Ice

When ice forms on roads, staircases, pathways and pavements, salt or sand can both be used to rectify the situation – salt helps to melt the ice and sand helps to provide traction. If you live in a house, do note that you are responsible for the pavement around your property for pedestrians (unless otherwise informed by your landlord). If you live in an apartment building, de-icing of the common areas is usually covered by the housing cooperative.

Traction

Shoes with good traction are advisable. If you do not have those, you can simply purchase ice and snow grips as add-ons to your footwear when you encounter snow and ice. Most sports stores, shoe stores and shoe repair stores will have a selection of ice and snow grips. This is highly advisable to prevent painful falls.

Pedestrians and Cyclists

Reflective Vests

Be sure that you (and your children) are visible in the dark or that your clothing and bicycle has sufficient reflective elements so that motorists can see you clearly.

  • Wear reflective vests.
  • Put on reflective elements and/or LED lights on your wrists, arms, head, ankles, bags, etc.
  • Don a headlamp.
  • Wear clothes or use accessories with reflective elements.
  • LED leash and collar for dogs
  • Equip your bicycle with reflective elements and lamps.

Extra tips

  • Reflective elements which dangle/move around, when you are in motion, are more effective in increasing your visibility.
  • Reflective elements should hang around your knee level in order to reflect light from vehicle headlamps.
  • Use several reflective elements so you can be seen from different angles.
  • Scratches decrease the effectiveness of your reflective elements, so be sure to replace them when necessary.

Stay safe and be seen!

Pedestrian Crossings

  • Some drivers may not completely de-ice and defog their windows and windscreens, especially if it’s in the morning and they are in a rush, so their visibility will be distinctly poorer than usual.
  • Be sure to catch the attention of the driver before crossing the road. Weather conditions might make it hard for drivers to see you.
  • Note that cyclists should dismount from their bicycles when going across a zebra crossing. Never cycle across a pedestrian crossing – your speed will make it hard for a driver to stop in time if he/she did not see you.

Your Vehicle

General Condition

  • Ensure that your vehicle is in a good condition and that it is safe to be driven.
  • Ensure your car battery has enough power.
  • Before driving, scrape all ice and snow from, front/rear screens, windows and wing mirrors, as well as your headlights. You may risk a hefty fine if you do not clear your car sufficiently, not to mention getting into an accident due to limited visibility.
  • Defog your windows and windscreen.
  • Keep your windscreen fluid topped up and have extra in the vehicle. Ensure that you use winter windscreen fluid (so that it will not freeze).
  • Check your windshield wipers and replace them if necessary.

Road Conditions

  • Be updated on road and traffic conditions.
  • Use major streets or highways for travel whenever possible as these roads will be cleared first.

Tyres

Studded/Non-studded Tyres

On slippery surfaces, sufficient traction can be ensured by using studded/non-studded winter tyres, snow chains or similar devices.

Studded tyres may be used from November 1st until the first Sunday after Easter. If studded tyres are fitted there is a charge (in Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger and Trondhelm). Stickers are available for purchase daily, monthly or yearly.

From October 15th until May 1st you are permitted to use studded tyres in Nordland, Troms and Finnmark.

Do note however, that you are allowed to use studded tyres or chains outside these dates if the road conditions require extra grip.

There are no restrictions for using non-studded winter tyres all year round. However, the disadvantage of using non-studded winter tyres in the summer is that the tyres will not have the same stability, lateral grip and braking ability that they will have in the winter. This is partly because the air temperature is much warmer in the summer, and asphalt has a higher temperature than in the winter.

Requirements for the tread depth on tyres (for vehicles up to 3500 kg)

For summer tyres, the minimum requirement for tread depth is 1.6 mm.(NAF recommends a min. of 3 mm)
For winter tyres, the minimum requirement for tread depth is 3 mm. (NAF recommends a min. of 5 mm)

Heavy vehicles (over 3500 kg) have their own winter tyre requirements.

Black Ice

Black ice is a thin coating of ice layer on a surface. It is so called because it is transparent and you can see through it. It can form on roads and pavements, bridges, on water and on mountains. Be extremely careful when driving, cycling or walking on affected surfaces.

Braking

Keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front – remember stopping distances are twice as long or even longer on wet or icy roads.

Know Who to Call

Ensure that you know which company and what number to dial if your vehicle breaks down or if you are involved in a road traffic accident.

Mobile Phone

Be sure to have a charged mobile phone (with sufficient credit) so you will be able to call for help if necessary.

Maps

Have an actual map or GPS to help you out if you get lost or if you have to take a detour because of road and weather conditions.

Emergency Kit

It is recommended to keep an emergency kit in your car (in case you become stranded).

Emergency kit for the car:

  • blankets and jackets
  • canned food and water
  • batteries and flashlights
  • first-aid kit
  • booster cables
  • a bag of sand (for traction)
  • tow rope

Frozen Waters

  • NEVER go on frozen waters unless they have been officially declared safe.
  • Always keep en eye on children when around frozen water.
  • If you hear cracking, lie down immediately to try to distribute your weight.

Strong Winds

  • Stay home and do not go out unless necessary. Strong winds can dislodge trees, roof tiles and other loose items.
  • Secure all your loose outdoor items (grills, trampolines, benches, etc).

It is always advisable to check the weather forecast for the day and plan (and dress) accordingly. Also check road and traffic conditions.