Question of the Week: Preventing Falls on Ice

Pam Flores @phflores Health Guide


    Winter is almost here again, and many of you will have to deal with snow, ice and slush, and the things they cause, like slippery sidewalks, roads and driveways. What ideas do you have to make this season safer while walking in these conditions?

    "Snow and ice cause a substantial number of falls for pedestrians living in colder climates, said Dr. Jane Stutts, manager of epidemiological studies at the UNC center. Stutts recently completed a study of pedestrian and bicycle injuries reported at hospitals in Buffalo, N.Y.; Wilmington and Greenville, N.C.; and Modesto, Oxnard and Santa Barbara, Calif. Looking at emergency room data from three participating Buffalo hospitals, she found that nearly 27 percent of the patients admitted for pedestrian-related injuries between April 1995 and March 1996 were injured on icy surfaces-especially parking lots or residential driveways (U.S. Department of Transportation: Partnership for a Walkable America by: Emily Smith University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center)."

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    "Falls for an older person are actually a substantial problem for a couple of reasons," he said. "One problem is that when an older person falls, it frequently results in an injury that immobilizes the person in bed for an extended period of time and often results in secondary problems like pneumonia. Secondly, older people have other health problems like osteoporosis and other kinds of degenerative bone problems that can make them more prone to fractures when they do fall."

    "Falls should be a real concern for older people, Manz said. "They need to be careful about their choice of where to walk and when to walk. And it would also be good if sidewalks would be kept clear of snow and slick ice. (Department of Transportation, Manz)."


    • What will you do to prevent slipping on snow or ice covered walkways and roads?
    • Do you have special shoes that cut into the ice or that have some kind of non-slip sole?
    • What products do you use to cut down on the slipperiness of all these different types of frozen surfaces?
    • What do you use to clear or treat your walkways and driveways?
    • Do you take precautions, to safe guard your spine and hips, when using heavy equipment that requires forward bending to clear ice?

    Share any stories you may have about falling in these conditions; what happened to you, were you injured and how were you treated if you sustained a fracture or some other type of injury.


    We hope that this information from the Department of Transportation gives you a better idea of the dangers and precautions we all need to take during winter when dealing with ice and slippery surfaces.



Published On: October 13, 2009