Be Safe, Be Seen during Alaska’s dark winter months

When you walk or bike through Alaska during winter’s dark months, are you making sure to “Be Safe, Be Seen?”

Even though a pedestrian may be on sidewalks separated from cars, you still need to make sure your clothes are bright and reflective. That way drivers can see you when they leave their home and business driveways and enter traffic.

Why wearing white is not enough.

Too many people in Alaska wear black clothes during the winter, including when they are walking or biking. This doesn’t give the drivers a fighting chance to see you before it’s too late. Not only is it dark during the winter, but in heavy snow years there are berms that can make it difficult to see walkers and bikers. Also, some drivers don’t wait for their windshields to fully defrost, so their vision is obstructed.

The typical driver needs 260 feet to stop at 60 mph, but dark blue or black clothes only give them about 55 feet. Red clothes are a little bit better, giving drivers 80 feet, while yellow clothes give 120 feet and white clothes give 180 feet (if you can pick the person out from the snow background). People wearing reflectors can be seen as far away as 500 feet.

This is why many Alaska walkers and bikers wear reflective tape on their clothes or reflective vests, even on short trips such as checking the mail or walking the dog. Click here to learn more about the state’s Alaska Reflector Program. The Center for Safe Alaskans’ Bike and Walk Safe Program will mail free reflective tape to people who call (907) 929-3939, or click this link. The Center for Safe Alaskans (when it was known as the Alaska Injury Prevention Center) also produced a YouTube video that shows how reflective tape makes you easier to see.

Don’t forget to put reflective tape on your sleeves, backpack, rain pants, bike helmet and bike frame, not just on the trunk of your jacket. And if you’re biking, don’t forget you are required by state law to have a solid white light on front and red reflector on bike when you are on the road after dark.

“I have found that cutting the (reflective) tape length-wise and placing it on the jacket exterior on a moving part of the body (such as around the wrist area), in addition to placement on the torso, yields high visibility,” said Lulu Jensen, Center for Safe Alaskans project director.

SEARHC Injury Prevention reminds parents that reflective tape saves children’s lives

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It’s the time of year when it is dark outside as students are waiting for the bus and walking or riding their bikes to and from school. While short days are something we’re all accustomed to in Alaska, evolution has not helped our ability to see any better in the dark.

Almost everyone of with a license to drive has probably driven by a child on a darkened street at some point, and said to themselves with a feeling of relief, “I almost didn’t see that kid!” In fact, most drivers need a minimum distance of 260 feet in order to stop in time to miss something on the road; more if the road is slick. If a child in the roadway is wearing dark clothing, a driver’s reaction time is greatly reduced – allowing just 55 feet to stop after seeing the child. Even wearing white clothing gives drivers a mere 180 feet of reaction time – not enough to avoid an accident or quite possibly a catastrophe.

The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Injury Prevention Team wants to let everyone know that taking precautions does not mean avoiding the walk to school or the wait at the bus stop, but there are some simple ways to make children safer while doing both. It’s as easy as adding reflective tape or buying clothes with built-in reflectives to help children “Be Safe, Be Seen.” Wearing reflective gear allows children to be seen from 500 feet away.

Purchasing all new coats, jackets and backpacks with built-in reflective gear may not make financial sense, but reflective tape is very inexpensive and easy to apply and remove from clothing. Once you obtain the reflective tape, remember to place reflective tape on all sides of the child’s jacket — the front, back, both sides and along both arms. You should also apply reflective tape to backpacks, book bags and your child’s bike frame. As an added bonus when you’re finished, turn off the lights and shine a flashlight on the tape to show your kid how cool it looks.

For more information, please visit the Injury Prevention section of the SEARHC website, http://www.searhc.org/services/health-promotion/injury-prevention. Free reflective tape may be requested from the SEARHC Injury Prevention Team by contacting Lesa Way at 966-8804 or lesaw@searhc.org.

Be Safe, Be Seen during dark winter months by wearing reflective tape

Reflectors Save Lives posterWhen you walk or bike through Sitka during winter’s dark months, are you making sure to “Be Safe, Be Seen?”

Even though a pedestrian may be on sidewalks separated from cars, you still need to make sure your clothes are bright and reflective. That way drivers can see you when they leave their home and business driveways and enter traffic.

Too many people in Sitka wear black clothes during the winter, including when they are walking or biking. This doesn’t give the drivers a fighting chance to see you before it’s too late. Not only is it dark during the winter, but in heavy snow years there are berms that can make it difficult to see walkers and bikers. Also, some drivers don’t wait for their windshields to fully defrost, so their vision is obstructed.

The typical driver needs 260 feet to stop at 60 mph, but dark blue or black clothes only give them about 55 feet. Red clothes are a little bit better, giving drivers 80 feet, while yellow clothes give 120 feet and white clothes give 180 feet (if you can pick the person out from the snow background). People wearing reflectors can be seen as far away as 500 feet.

This is why many Sitka walkers and bikers wear reflective tape on their clothes or reflective vests, even on short trips such as checking the mail or walking the dog. Click here to learn more about the Alaska Reflector Program. The Alaska Injury Prevention Center’s pedestrian safety program will mail free reflective tape to people who call (907) 929-3939. The Alaska Injury Prevention Center also produced a YouTube video that shows how reflective tape makes you easier to see.

Don’t forget to put reflective tape on your sleeves, backpack, rain pants, bike helmet and bike frame, not just on the trunk of your jacket. And if you’re biking, don’t forget you are required by state law to have a solid white light on front and red reflector on bike when you are on the road after dark.