As the nation experiences one of the coldest winters in recent history you not only need to worry about staying warm, but also of the injuries that can occur when these temperatures meet moisture on the ground. Slips and falls during the winter month’s cause hundred of thousands of injuries and deaths each year in Canada and the U.S. While it is still a threat to our children, the adults and elderly have a much longer, harder fall. And when we do fall we are more likely to break things. Worse yet, while a simple break or muscle sprain for the average middle age adult or child can cause a lot of pain and suffering, in the elderly can be life threatening. So unless you intend on not venturing out on days that are below freezing (lucky you), then you should take some precautions to make sure you don’t spend any unwanted time in the hospital or emergency room.
Try these slip and fall prevention tips:
- Wear the right shoes. We see plenty of broken or sprained ankles from women walking in heels on a warm summer day, so in the winter heels would probably be your worst option. Men are not off the hook here either. Men’s dress shoes typically have flat bottoms with no tread. You might as well be walking on sleds. The right footwear should, and is, your best defense against slipping and falling. Try to find something with rubber bottoms with a good thick tread that will grip the snow and ice better.
- Walk the walk. When walking on snow and ice take shorter slower steps. You want as much surface area of your feet to be in contact with the ground as possible. If you come across a patch of solid ice, shuffling your feet can be your best option as it will give you the most stability.
- Keep your hands free. When carrying a briefcase, lunch bag, or your children you are just asking for trouble. If you were to fall this now eliminates one or both arms from helping absorb the impact. Most deaths from falling on ice occur when the person hits their head on the ice. This also means keep your hands out of your pockets and gloves on. While you may injure your arms or shoulders you will protect your head.
- Hold on. Walk near something you can hold on to like handrails or a fence. Grab sturdy objects when possible… and your friend or child IS NOT a sturdy object. You will likely pull them down with you. When getting out of a car, hold on to the door until you find out just how icy it is. Test the ground before you hop right out.
Even if you follow our advice and take all these precautions we still cannot guarantee that the ground and you will not have a meeting this winter. But the better you prepare the less likely you are to slip and fall. For those with balance issues already, your odds may be even worse. If you have not yet had physiotherapy to help with your balance issues or if you simply want us to assess your balance we would love to have you stop by one of our clinics for an evaluation. And if you happen to be unlucky and already took a hard fall, let one of our physiotherapists help you recover and get you back on solid ground.