A reflective vest could save your life while walking on snowy roads

Snow removal equipment clears snow from Main Street in downtown Bangor on Dec. 22, 2013
Snow removal equipment clears snow from Main Street in downtown Bangor on Dec. 22, 2013 Buy Photo
Posted Jan. 02, 2014, at 11:40 a.m.
People walk along Union Street in the freezing rain on Dec. 22, 2013.
People walk along Union Street in the freezing rain on Dec. 22, 2013. Buy Photo

Tragedy has struck recently with pedestrians being hit by cars. Bad weather and dark clothing are major culprits.

Wearing clothing that has reflective properties, either stripes or an actual reflective vest, can prevent this tragedy, making the difference between life and death.

Oftentimes sidewalks are not available or have not been plowed, so people are forced to walk in the street. Some may have to retrieve their mail from mailboxes across the road from their homes. Streetlights are iffy at best and frankly are no match for dark clothing and bad weather. For some seniors, hearing loss and changes in their peripheral vision may make it harder for them to hear or see a vehicle approaching.

It’s not just roads that pose a risk. Parking lots are dangerous at night. Motorists backing up may not see a person in dark clothing crossing behind the vehicle. This is a preventable disaster.

A reflective vest is visible hundreds of feet away, giving a motorist plenty of time to maneuver safely and avoid hitting a pedestrian. Eastern Area Agency on Aging has made a commitment to increasing the visibility of seniors and adults with disabilities through its Vest Dressed for Safety program, which offers reflective lightweight orange-mesh vests with front and back panels held together by elastic strips. The front panels fasten together with Velcro, which is helpful to seniors with arthritic hands.

Since the program’s inception a few years ago, EAAA has distributed hundreds of vests. While reflective clothing is available through local retailers, EAAA wants to make obtaining a vest as easy as possible, without having to shop around.

“If getting a vest becomes complicated, with going from store to store, people may not bother,” said Noelle Merrill, executive director at EAAA. “We wanted to make it easy for people to be safer.”

EAAA asks for a $10 donation to help cover its costs. You may purchase a vest online at www.eaaa.org under the Donate Now button by selecting Vest Dressed for Safety. Or call EAAA at 800-432-7812 for information.

A black coat may be stylish but an orange vest, or other reflective clothing, can save your life.

Carol Higgins Taylor is director of community education at Eastern Area Agency on Aging.

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