Snow and ice bring hazardous walking and driving conditions to campus. The best defense against the effects of winter conditions is preventative action. It is important to remind everyone of precautions that should be followed to ensure a safe home and work space. 

  • Report problem spots

    If you identify icy or hazardous sidewalks, parking lots, or building entrances/exits, use the form below to report a problem to Facilities Planning and Management (FPM) or call the FPM Service Desk at (515) 294-5100.

Every year, nearly 1,000 people die due to hypothermia. Working in cold environments requires people to be aware of the risk of hypothermia and frostbite. Understanding how to protect the body from excessive exposure in cold conditions is crucial. The ambient temperature and duration of exposure to cold are keys in determining the level of risk from exposure. This risk can be reduced by following the guidelines below:


Proper layering uses lightweight and comfortable fabrics that trap the air warmed by the body while allowing moisture vapor from perspiration to be conducted away from the skin. 


The first layer for cold weather exposure should keep you warm and dry. The best materials for long underwear are those that "wick" wetness away from the skin quickly and effectively. Synthetic fibers dry quickly and pull perspiration vapor away from the skin toward the insulation layer, where it can evaporate. 


Warmth and dryness are crucial factors. Insulating layers may need to be added if the activity level tapers off. The best insulators (wool, goose down) trap warm air but still provide ventilation. Clothing should be comfortable, lightweight, durable, and windproof.

The shell

Outerwear should be appropriate for the activity. Jackets and pants must allow perspiration vapor to vent while blocking wind and rain. The material must reduce heat loss and help the rest of the layers to provide dryness and comfort.

Covering head and hands

In addition to layering, it is very important that the head, hands, and feet are protected from the damp and cold.


The head and neck lose heat faster than any other body part. Covering the head is critical; unlike the hands and feet, the blood supply does not become constricted in the cold. This is why body heat escapes through the head more readily than the hands or feet.


To preserve heat in vital organs, the body limits the amount of blood pumped to the extremities. That's why hands and feet are the first things to get cold; they're being "sacrificed" for the more important body parts.  Always wear gloves that are breathable and waterproof.


Feet can get cold quickly and allow heat to escape. The feet generally can pump a full cup of perspiration over the course of an active day.  Footwear should be durable, waterproof, and breathable, and should include synthetic fiber socks with a thin pair of wicking socks.

People take a risk every time they get behind the wheel and the risk is much greater when driving in winter weather. Preparing your vehicle for the winter season and knowing how to react if stranded or lost on the road are important factors to safe winter driving. Here are some tips to prepare yourself and your vehicle for winter driving.

Prepare your vehicle for winter

  • Check the battery and ignition system to ensure proper starting capability. Clean and identify + and – battery terminals.
  • Check the wipers, defroster, windshield washer fluid, and lights, especially hazard warning lights.
  • Check the exhaust system, heater, and brakes, and change the oil to a winter-grade oil (SAE 10W/30 weight).
  • Check tires for adequate tread (no less than 2/32 inch). New all-season or "snow tires" are recommended.
  • Have a windshield scraper and a small broom for ice and snow removal.
  • Assemble a winter car emergency kit, which should include:
    • A small bag of kitty litter or sand (to use as traction if you get stuck on snow or ice)
    • A shovel (a collapsible one might work best)
    • Ice scraper
    • Water
    • Food (preferably high-energy, non-perishable items)
    • First aid kit
    • Flashlight (and batteries)
    • Blankets and warm clothes
    • Plastic bags (for sanitation)

Additional items you may want to add: flares, towing cables, jumper cables, phone chargers, a GPS device, and brightly colored cloth to use as a flag.

Winter Driving Guidelines

If possible, try to avoid driving in winter storms. Postpone trips or take public transportation. When driving in winter conditions, keep these tips in mind:

  • Remove all snow and ice from windows, headlights, and taillights before you drive.
  • Make sure all movements are controlled and deliberate. Accelerate slowly to avoid loss of traction and loss of control.
  • Move in a manner that will allow others to adjust to your actions.
  • Anticipate actions of other drivers and DRIVE DEFENSIVELY.
  • Use caution when you cross bridges and overpasses. These structures freeze before other road surfaces.
  • Use greater following distances. Stopping distances with ice and snow on roads can triple over distances under normal conditions. Double or triple the 2-second count rule to create a safety buffer zone behind the vehicle in front of yours.
  • Brake and steer gently and deliberately. Brake carefully with short, rapid application of the brakes.
  • Pass with care: Passing lanes are not as well maintained as driving lanes.
  • Turn on your low-beam headlights or fog lights whenever fog, rain, or snow reduces visibility. High beams increase the glare and reduce visibility.

As conditions warrant, facilities Planning and Management's Campus Services workgroup provides snow and ice removal for 23 miles of institutional roads, 34 miles of sidewalks and bike paths, and 162 acres of parking lots. During snow removal procedures, you may need to park in a designated lot while the crews work to clear the snow. Visit FPM's Snow Removal page to learn more.

Give yourself sufficient time, and plan your route. 

  • Traffic moves slowly in snowy conditions.
  • Give yourself extra time--don't assume a clear path for driving and walking will be available.

Wear shoes or boots that provide traction on snow and ice. 

  • Footwear made of rubber and neoprene composite provides better traction than plastic and leather soles.
  • Wear flat-soled shoes. Avoid shoes with heels.
  • Products are available with abrasive soles or cleats that provide special traction for walking on snow and ice, such as Yaktrax. Remember to remove them when entering buildings.

Use special care when entering and exiting vehicles, climbing or descending stairs, and entering or leaving buildings. 

  • Move slowly.
  • Remove snow/water from shoes when entering buildings.
  • Use handrails for support.
  • Try to keep your center of gravity over your support leg.
  • Use the car for support.
  • Keep your hands out of your pockets.

Walk on designated walkways as much as possible. 

  • Don’t take shortcuts over snow piles or areas where snow and ice removal is not feasible.
  • Look ahead when you walk. A sidewalk covered with ice may require travel along its grassy edge for traction.
  • Don’t text or read while walking.

Walk safely on snow or ice.

  • Take short steps or shuffle for stability.
  • Bend slightly forward and walk flat-footed with your center of gravity directly over your feet as much as possible.
  • Keep your hands out of your pockets.
  • Be prepared to fall. If you fall, fall with sequential contacts at your thigh, hip, and shoulder.  Avoid using outstretched arms to brace yourself.
  • Bend your back and head forward to avoid hitting your head against the ground.