During winter months, the most common accidents that result in injury—slips, trips and falls—happen more frequently due to dangerous conditions created by wind, snow and ice. 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.

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The good news is most falls can be prevented by taking these extra precautions.

  1. Prepare surfaces for forecasted freezing rain or snow. Cover paved surfaces around yourhome with de-icer, rock salt, sand or kitty litter. If you have to leave the house during these conditions, carry a small bag in your car or pocket to sprinkle on patches of ice when you find them. 
  2. Try to plan your trips around the weather. If conditions are bad and you don’t need to go out, wait for the weather and sidewalks to clear. Also allow yourself enough time to get where you’re going because when you are running late or rushing, chances of falling increase.
  3. Wear appropriate clothing. Gloves keep your hands warm and out of your pockets so you can better balance or brace yourself if you fall. Also wear properly fitting boots or shoes with wide, low heels or snow and ice cleats that fit over shoes and boots in order to get the greatest traction. Look for a pair that is easy to put on and remove.
  4. Avoid carrying heavy loads that may cause you to lose balance. 
  5. Find the safest route to take. Look for ice, broken pavement or cracked sidewalks. 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. Try to walk flatfooted, rather than the typical heel-to-toe steps, and lengthen your stride.
  6. Carry a flashlight in the dark. It will make it easier for you to see what is ahead, and to make you more visible to passing drivers.  
  7. Take your time and be careful. Be alert to the possibility of quickly slipping on an unseen patch of ice. Avoid the temptation to run to catch a bus or beat traffic when crossing the street. If you feel uncomfortable on a surface, ask for help by having someone escort you across the intersection or over an icy patch. 
  8. Know how to help others. 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.

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