Winter Fall Prevention Tips

Winter has finally found us here in Delta County. What comes with cold and snow during the winter are slippery conditions from snow and ice. Here are some thoughts on how to be safe in the winter walking conditions.

Choosing appropriate clothing for going out of doors:
  • During bad weather, start with avoiding boots and shoes with smooth soles and heels. Choose shoes or boots that the sole will provide traction and stability in the snow and ice. Boots that are made with a non-slip rubber or neoprene sole is the best for traction.
  • Wear heavy, bulky coat that will provide some cushion if you were to fall.
  • When out walking, make sure drivers can see you. Wear a bright scarf or hat to be easily seen.
  • Covering your ears to remain warm is important but be sure that you can hear what is going on around you.
  • Wear your sunglasses. They protect you against the winter sun but also helps you see better and avoid hazards.

As you walk over ice here are some ideas to keep yourself safe:
  • As the temperature drops, be aware that the dark areas on pavement can easily be black ice. The dew or water vapor can freeze on cold surfaces, which form what appears to be a wet spot on the pavement; it can be a nearly invisible layer of ice. Approach with caution.
  • As the sidewalks and the cross walks are cleared, try to stay on them. Avoid large piles of snow and other frozen areas. The shortcuts can be hazardous, with little or no traction. As you approach a hill, you may have to go to the side and use the grassy edge for the needed traction.
  • As you walk, bend slightly and keep your center of balance over your feet as much as possible.
  • Keeping your arms loose and at your side to insure a more balanced posture.
  • Carrying a load such as sacks of groceries will off-set your balance, if you must, keep the load small, and make more trips.
  • As much as possible keep your hands out of your pockets. Having your hands out of your pocket assists in your center of balance. Your hand and arms will help you break a fall if you start to slip.
  • Watch where you step and go SLOWLY. You will have a better reaction time if you do start to fall.
  • Always use the hand rail if going up steps. Placing your feet firmly on each step.
  • Getting into and out of a vehicle can be hazardous, use the vehicle for support as you enter and exit, watch out for icy patches in parking area.
  • Do the shuffle as you walk, it helps with stability.

As we are hit with cold snowy, icy conditions we can keep ourselves safer just with a few thoughts as we venture out of doors.

Article authored by Peg Parmenter, RN, Nurse Trauma Coordinator, Emergency Department, Delta County Memorial Hospital ( photo - head shot)