With recent storms in the area, and the possibility of more snow in the forecast, it is an important to be aware of the dangers of falling on ice. Falls on ice can lead to significant injuries such as fractures of the wrists, ankles and hip, as well as cause potential brain injury. It is impossible to completely avoid ice and snow this time of year, but there are some things that can be done to help decrease risk of falling.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Avoid distractions such as the cell phone and take time to pay attention to the surfaces that you are walking on or getting ready to walk on.
- Try to pick areas that are well lit when you are parking and walking, so that you can see any ice that is in your path, especially so that you can see black ice.
- Pick walks that are well-cleared, even if that is not the most direct route.
- Use salt or sand on icy walkways.
- When walking on ice, walk with short, shuffling steps and keep feet as flat as possible.
- If there is something sturdy close by, use it to help with balance. For example, using a handrail. Or, as you are getting out of your car in an icy parking lot, hold onto the car to help with balance.
- When you are getting out of your car in an icy or potentially icy area, place both feet firmly on the ground before getting up to help with balance.
- Avoid carrying heavy bags that may throw off your center of gravity.
- Don’t hurry! Take your time while walking over ice and snow.
- Be sure to wear good shoes with appropriate traction. Rubber-soled shoes are best. You can also use various types of traction devices that slip over the shoes.
Once you are home, don’t forget to take your snowy shoes off as soon as possible to avoid causing wet floors that could lead to a fall in the home. If you must go out, be careful. These tips can reduce your risk of falling, but there is always a chance of falling when you are walking on slippery surfaces.
Take extra precautions if you:
- are over 65 years of age
- take 4 or more medications
- have had a fall in the last six months
- use a cane or a walker
- have difficulty with balance
- have risks that could make a fall more serious, such as osteoporosis
- are taking blood thinners
These can increase risk of a fall and increase risk of a serious event in the case of a fall. Due to that, avoid icy conditions as much as possible. On snowy, icy days, cancel nonessential appointments and activities. Try to get shopping and errands done before a storm comes. Keep exercise indoors for a few days as needed. When you do need to go out, take your time and be as careful as possible.