Get a Grip on Winter’s Falls and Trips

No matter how often snow and ice is salted and removed from walking surfaces, you will probably encounter some slippery surfaces this winter. Walking to and from parking lots, on sidewalks, and between buildings during the winter months requires special attention to avoid slipping and falling. We often forget how dangerous slipping and falling can be.

According to the National Safety Council, falls are one of the leading causes of unintentional injuries in the United States, accounting for approximately 8.9 million visits to the emergency department annually. Many winter trips and falls result in fractures, spine injuries, and broken joints requiring care by an orthopedic physician.

Hazards to watch for in winter include snow-covered ice, black ice, uneven surfaces, and unsalted sidewalks and parking lots.

Report unsafe areas and unsalted parking lots and sidewalks to the appropriate personnel immediately. There are steps you can take to avoid injury. Wear shoes or boots that provide traction on snow and ice. Avoid boots or shoes with smooth soles and heels. Walk in designated walkways as much as possible. Taking shortcuts over snow piles and other frozen areas is dangerous. Look ahead when you walk; a snow- or ice-covered sidewalk may require travel along its grassy edge for traction. Focus completely on getting from point A to point B. Use extreme caution when clearing snow and ice.

How to keep from slipping on ice?

Here are some tips to help keep you safe – and upright – this wHowinter:

Walk Like a Penguin
Do the penguin shuffle!

Walking like a penguin can reduce your chances of slipping and falling. Focus on your footing – keep your head up, slowly take short steps or shuffle, extend your arms out to your sides for balance, and walk flatfooted. If you fall, try to avoid landing on your knees, wrists, or spine; relax your muscles and fall on your side.

Step Down – Not Out – of Cars
Swing both legs out. Place both feet, flatfooted, on the ground. Grab onto your car’s door frame or steering wheel to help support yourself to a standing position. Use at least three points of contact for support – two feet and one hand – when getting in and out of vehicles.

Step Down, Not Out…on the Curb
Be careful of transitions like curb to sidewalk.

Shorten your steps. Do not step too far out. Step flatfooted off the curb. This minimizes your forward momentum. Don’t allow your leading foot to land heel-first. If you do, you will slip.