The incidence of slips and falls outdoors significantly increases during the winter months. As our sidewalks get icy, we need to be more careful when we venture outside. Here are some tips to help you prevent falling this winter:
- Wear rubber-soled shoes. If you are an avid outdoor walker, consider putting ice and snow traction straps on your shoes. There are many different brands of these cleats that attach to the bottom of your shoe for added traction on slippery surfaces.
- Avoid wearing dress shoes. If you must get dressed up on a very cold or wet winter day, bring your dress shoes with you and change when you get to your destination. Women’s heeled shoes have a much smaller base of support, which can throw off your center of gravity.
- Consider using a cane, walker, or walking sticks. Even if you usually don’t use an assistive device, using a cane or walker during the winter can give you some extra stability to prevent falls.
- Never leave the house without a phone. If you are going for a walk, make sure you have a way to contact someone in case you need help.
- Walk outdoors in good light. Turn your outside lights on before you leave the house and make sure they are on when you return. Avoid walking outdoors around dusk or after dark when it will be much harder to see ice on the sidewalks.
- Use salt or cat litter on your driveway and sidewalks. Consider carrying a small bag with you in case you need it while you are out. Some parking lots may not be well salted so it may come in handy if you need to exit the car.
- Walk on the grass if the sidewalk is too icy.
- Take small steps on icy / snowy areas. You want to keep your center of mass over your foot and not step out of your base of support. Taking too big of steps will cause your foot to slide and you to fall.
- Keep your hands free. Your hands and arms are very important to help you maintain your balance. Keep your hands out of your pockets and avoid carrying anything in your hands so they are free.
- Avoid running to try to catch a bus or to cross a street.
- Remove snow quickly. If possible, remove the snow from around your house as quickly as you can so it does not turn to ice. If you are unable to do it yourself, have someone help you. If you just wait for it to melt, it could take days!
Always use your best judgment whether to venture outdoors in the winter. If you must go out in the cold and snow, follow these tips to help prevent any slips and falls. Stay safe this winter!