Winter is in full swing and with it comes seasonal hazards and slippery conditions. Snow, ice and sleet are the major culprits in winter slips and falls, along with improperly cleared roads and walkways. The same ingredients that make for fun, also make for walking hazards. Caution is key in slippery, winter conditions.
It is not uncommon to see a rise in emergency room visits from slips and falls after a snow or ice storm. Injuries from these falls include: wrist and hip fractures, sprains, and ligament and tendon damage. Head injuries are also common.
To avoid a trip to the emergency room, try to stay inside until roads and walkways are cleared. If that is not possible, use extra caution and wear footwear with stability and traction.
When temperatures rise during the day, remember they will drop as soon as the sun goes down. This can create unexpected spots of ice where there wasn’t any earlier in the day. Be sure to look out for hazardous black ice and snow covered ice on roads, sidewalks and uneven surfaces that have not been properly salted or plowed. Always be on the look out for unsafe areas when walking.
Tips for avoiding a slip or fall:
- Wear winter footwear that provides support and traction. Do not wear shoes or boots with smooth soles. Bring them along and change into them when you reach your destination.
- Look ahead when you are walking and plan a route if you need to avoid slippery sidewalks. Walking on the perimeter can help, as there could be more traction on grassy edges.
- Do not take shortcuts over snow piles or un-shoveled areas.
- Use hand rails along outdoor stairs and walkways.
- When getting out of the car or truck, use the door for support.
- Try not to carry bulky packages or backpacks which can throw off your balance.
- If you do feel yourself falling, relax your muscles and try to land on your side. This can help to prevent wrist or hip fractures.
- Keep your own driveway and walkways cleared and salted.
If it is unavoidable to cross a slippery area, the best way is to shuffle. To do this is, keep your head up, point your feet out, put your arms out for added balance then, take very short steps barely lifting your feet from the surface. This can give you a little added stability. Have a safe and slip free winter.
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