Orthopedic Specialists

Tips to Prevent Falls in the Winter Months

January 2, 2019

Winter has arrived, and with the snow and ice comes a greater risk for falls.  Here are some great tips to help prevent falls during these snowy days of winter: 

1.    Wear shoes/boots with good traction and/or invest in some of the “ice trackers” now that are made for walking on ice. (These are for outdoors and can be dangerous if not removed when going inside!)
2.    Plan ahead.   If your trip can wait for better weather, then wait for the roads and sidewalks to be clear. 
3.    Slow down. The risk of falls obviously increases when you are rushing to get somewhere.
4.    Look for the safest route to your location and into the building.  Choose an alternate route if your usual path is ice covered or has not been shoveled adequately.  If possible, step into the grassy edge of a sidewalk to have more traction if the sidewalk is slick. 
5.    Pay attention.  Stay aware of the surfaces in front of you. Look down with your eyes only, not your head as you may shift your balance. Walk consciously. 
6.    Dress warm so your muscles stay relaxed.  Tense muscles can adversely affect your balance. 
7.    Walk like a penguin.  Take short, shuffling steps with your toes pointed slightly outward to maintain a stable base of support.  Walk as flatfooted as possible.
8.    Keep your hands free.  Wear gloves so you can keep your hands out of your pockets to help your balance.  Avoid carrying heavy loads or children that may cause you to become off balance. 
9.    When walking in a dark or shadowy area, stay alert for black ice.  It is sometimes hard to distinguish and can be very treacherous.  
10.    Be extra careful getting in and out of your car.  Hold on to your door or car as you get out to give yourself extra support.  Watch for cars stopping and sliding in parking lots and at stop signs. 

By taking some extra time and a few extra precautions, you can still get some outdoor walks in and remain safe from falls.  If the surfaces are extremely covered, do some walking indoors until the walkways and streets are treated and cleared.  

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