Winter Walking & Injury Prevention: Tips to Avoid Slip & Fall Injuries
Everyone seems to love Autumn, the crisp mornings, apple picking, pumpkin decoration, and delicious seasonal squash soups. The weather is favorable, not too cold or hot, with a warm shining sun to protect you from the descending temperatures. The fall seems like the perfect distraction to what lays right around the corner, what many consider the most daunting season, of course being winter. In the winter it is cold, and snowy, the roads can sometimes be treacherous, and it is easy to get hurt. With the coldest season approaching us quicker than many would like, garnering a handful of unsafe conditions, it is imperative to be aware of winter walking injury prevention and equip yourself with knowledge to avoid an accident, especially slip and fall.
- Slip & Trip Definition and Statistics – Winter comes around every year, along with holiday celebrations, and family tradition comes the unfortunate fact of the possibility of a slip and fall accident. A slip occurs when there is too little traction between the foot and walking surface. A trip occurs when a person’s foot comes into contact with something unexpectedly throwing them off balance, the fall occurs when you are too far off balance. Falls are the most common causes of traumatic brain injuries, each year over 700,000 people are hospitalized because of a fall. Falls can cause broken bones, like ankles, wrists or arms. 95% of hip fractures are caused by a fall, usually on sidewalks. The risks of a slip and trip are amplified in the winter because of slippery surfaces or wet floors.
- Having the Right Gear – the first step in winter walking injury prevention may be the easiest, and most enjoyable of them all, it entails having the proper accessories to tackle winter dangers. It is evident that you need a thick, isolated jacket for the winter, one tip involving your coat is to get on that has reflective coating on certain parts. This allows you to be easily seen in the event you are outside and need assistance or want to be avoided by drivers. You need winter boots that have solid grip and warmth with a proper fit. The better the fit, the easier to walk, the better the grip, the more stable the walk. Although it is safest to avoid walking excessively outside in the winter, if you plan to it is wise to invest in a cane or walker, or skip pole to help you easily navigate the shoveled steps and sidewalks.
- Understanding the Walking Surface – there is a specific way to walk when tackling unsafe conditions, with the aim of accident prevention and focusing on safety. Before even learning the proper walking techniques there are steps you can take to prepare for the slippery conditions of the winter walk ways. Firstly, you should always carry salt, grit, sand or kitty litter to sprinkle on the way you are walking to provide traction. The texture of these items makes it easier for your boots to grip to the ground and not slip. Secondly you shroud contact your property manager, city center, or landscaping services to find out their anticipated snow removal schedules and practices. Equipped with this knowledge you can plan your outings accordingly.
- Walking Tips – Eventually you are going to have to face the tricky outside elements and walk on the icy shoveled steps and sidewalks, the goal is to not get hurt, focus on accident prevention, and avoid a slip and fall. When walking in the winter is is important to avoid shortcuts and allow yourself more time to travel. It is best to take routes that are highly maintained, and have frequent snow removal. You should take small, slow steps while paying attention to your footing. Taking the extra time to make your moves more calculated can save you a serious injury. Avoid areas with poor lighting, make sure you are aware and careful when entering or exiting a vehicle. When walking scan from left to right and be constantly aware of your surroundings.
- Be Aware of Wet Floors Inside – Walking outside is not the only hazard in the winter, all of the snowy shoes trek water and debris inside which can cause a risk as well. It is important to be aware of wet floor signs, take your shoes off upon entering a home, and keep water absorbent rugs near the door to try and soak up as much moisture as possible. Use rails or stable objects to aid in balance in slippery areas.
LinksHow to Shovel Snow
– information about proper form and technique associated with shoveling
National Floor Safety Fall Statistics – statistics and trends relation to fall injuries
What Can Happen After a Fall – information about effects of falling
Slip Hazard Signs -iconographic of what slip hazard signs mean
Snow Removal Safety Tips – ideas and suggestions of how to remove snow safely
Winter Walking Safety -tips on how to properly walk in the winter
Slip, Trip, & Fall Definition – definition of slip, trip, and fall
The Hazard of Wet Floors – risks associated with wet floors
Preventing Winter Injuries – information about how to avoid injuries in the winter
What To Do About Wet Floors – suggestions on how to take care of floors that are wet