Avoiding Winter Falls

By Kindred Healthcare
This blog post is adapted from The Pulse, the health and wellness magazine of Kindred Hospitals of Massachusetts.

Avoiding Winter FallsSlips, trips and falls are some of the most common accidents leading to injury. While most falls result in only minor bumps and bruises, thousands of people are admitted to hospitals each year after suffering a more serious injury.

During winter months, slips, trips and falls happen more frequently due to dangerous conditions created by wind, snow and ice. The good news is that most falls can be prevented by taking extra precautions. Whether you’re heading for the mountains or just the mailbox, take these steps to avoid winter falls.

Before it freezes, cover surfaces around your home with de-icer, rock salt, sand, or kitty litter. Carry a small bag in your car or pocket to sprinkle on patches of ice when you find them.

Plan ahead. Plan your trips out around the weather. If conditions are bad and you don’t need to go out, don’t. Wait for the weather and sidewalks to clear.

Allow yourself enough time to get where you’re going. If you’re running late or rushing, chances of falling increase.

Look out for ice, broken pavement or cracked sidewalks. Look for the safest route to your location. If a sidewalk or entrance you typically use is icy or packed with snow, find a different route that has been shoveled or treated for safe accessibility.

Wear proper-fitting boots or shoes with wide, low heels and soles that give you the greatest traction.

Snow and ice cleats that fit over your boots and shoes will grip the ice and give you the most traction. Make sure they are easy to put on and take off before purchasing a pair.

Carry a flashlight. It will make it easier for you to see and also make you more visible to passing drivers.

Walk flat-footed rather than the typical heel-to-toe steps. Lengthen your stride and give yourself extra time.

Ask for help. Have someone help you cross the street or navigate an icy patch.

Pay attention. Be alert to the possibility that you could quickly slip on an unseen patch of ice. Avoid the temptation to run to catch a bus or beat traffic when crossing a street.

Keep your hands free. Wear gloves so you can keep your hands out of your pockets to help you balance and brace yourself if you fall. Avoid carrying heavy loads or children that may cause you to become off balance.

If you find someone who has fallen outdoors and can’t get back up, call 911. Keep the person as warm as possible without trying to move him or her and stay until help arrives.