Avoiding Slips and Falls This Winter

While winter offers a lot of great activities like sledding, skiing, and hot chocolate — it also can be one of the most dangerous seasons of the year.

With the lowered temperatures in winter, navigation both in vehicles and on foot become much more difficult. Ice can be anywhere, and it can be hidden. You may not notice it until it is too late. As a person ages, the likelihood of fracturing a bone from a fall increases. It is imperative to be prepared for the ice this winter.

Staying Safe in Winter Weather

winter safety tips avoiding falls

Fortunately, with a bit of preparation and practice, the cold and ice can be managed. Follow these 6 simple steps to avoid a fall this winter.

1. Take Your Time

Make sure you plan for extra time in your commute or any travel that you may be making, whether it’s a drive to work or a walk to the grocery store. Take your time with your travel. Rushing can be the difference between having an accident and getting there safe and sound.

2. Keep Your Path Clear

When possible, travel only on areas that have already been cleared of ice and snow. Shoveling snow out of the way and using salt to keep ice from forming are two popular ways of keeping sidewalks clear. If need be, keep a bag or container of rock salt inside your car. Getting in or out of your car is a common place to have a slip and fall accident on the ice.

3. Dress for the Weather

Keep those high-heels at home, or in a bag for once you get inside an event. Slip resistant shoes and boots are your best option during the winter season. One of the easiest ways to avoid slipping on ice is to have the proper footwear. Your attire should also be geared towards the weather. Warm slip resistant clothes and footwear are your best options. You can also buy overshoes, a rubber “boot” that goes over your shoes to help protect against weather and hazardous walking conditions.

4. Use Handrails

Handrails and other grips are designed to help keep you standing. If one is available to use, use it.

Generally, handrails and other grips will be created with materials that will not freeze in average temperatures. Take advantage of the handles on cars, handrails on stairs or ramps.

5. Take Small Steps

No matter what else you do, make sure you do not run onto ice or snow during the winter. Always take small steps to evenly distribute the weight of your body as much as possible. This will help you keep your balance, as well as have ample time to see if there are icy hazards in front of you. Walking flat helps you balance yourself and helps from having gravity pull you in a direction you didn’t mean to go in.

6. Avoid Carrying Heavy Things

Carrying objects while on questionable terrain can offset your center of balance. While this may not be an issue on dry, normal terrain, a slight misstep on slippery ice can pull the weight of the thing you are carrying and make it difficult to regain your footing without taking a fall. Exercise patience and care when carrying objects. When possible, use a dolly or cart to transport large objects. Try to balance the weight as evenly as possible.

If you would like more information on this topic, Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center’s Physical therapy department offers educational seminars on this and other topics call Tony NFMMC Director of Sports Medicine & Summit Rehab Manager at   716-278-5903.

We hope you don’t fall but if you do remember our Summit Healthplex offers the UB Urgent Orthocare walkin clinic which treats these types of injuries. The clinic is located at 6934 Williams Road
Suite 600 Niagara Falls, NY 14304.

A fall can mean a fracture. Be careful this winter, and be prepared!