Take care when walking on snow and ice. 50% of falls on snow and ice result in serious injury and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), About 3 million people experience falls every year. It is predicted by 2030 there will be 7 deaths per hour due to fall-related injuries. Now that winter weather has arrived in full force and many parts of the country are experiencing snowy and icy conditions, play it safe when stepping outside to avoid painful and dangerous falls. Here are a few tips to help you navigate the winter conditions.
Check Your Footwear
Carefully examine your shoes and boots making sure there is proper traction and decide if a new pair is needed. This is not the time to be cheap. If you don’t have the proper traction you increase the chances of falling. You may even consider investing in ‘chains’ for your shoes. There are many brands and types to choose from like Yak Trax, Nano Spikes, or Ultra Ice Cleats just to name a few. If you need to wear high heels or dress shoes (which typically don’t have traction) pack them in a bag and put them on when you get to your destination.
Move Slowly and Steady
Common sense tells you the faster you move and the more side to side movements you make the likelihood of falling increases. Slow down, be deliberate and intentional in your movement. Think out your ‘plan of attack’ beforehand. Remember to keep telling yourself ‘slow and steady wins the race’, at least in this instance.
Take Shorter Steps
Taking shorter steps accomplishes a few things:
- It helps keep your center of gravity over your whole foot
- It slows your momentum, reducing the chance of slipping
- It helps increase your reaction time in the event of a slip
When entering or exiting buildings or using stairs make sure to utilize the handrails. They are there for your safety. The use of handrails helps provide stability and support when you aren’t feeling confident in yourself and your abilities. Nobody will look differently about you if you use them, in fact, they will probably question you as to why you didn’t use them.
Ask for Help
If you have no choice but to walk across an icy sidewalk or parking lot, try to find a steady arm to lean on. Most people are happy to help someone navigate a slippery walkway, all you have to do is ask.
Strengthen your Legs
Strong leg muscles can help you steady yourself if you slip when walking on snow and ice. If you aren’t sure how to properly do this either hire a personal trainer or ask your physician to prescribe physical therapy for strengthening. If you do fall, having stronger legs make it a lot easier to get back up. You should exercise your legs regularly to keep them strong. Try walking up and down your stairs repeatedly or do a set of 10 squats out of a chair a couple times daily.
Don’t Forget your Cell Phone
If you do fall, it may be hard for you to get up. Making sure you have your phone will bring you peace of mind when going out.