Preventing Winter Falls

During the winter, many of you will have to deal with snow, ice and slush, and the things they cause, like slippery sidewalks, roads and driveways. Falling is a major cause of hip, spinal, wrist and arm fractures; so it is very important to find ways to be safe on slippery surfaces to prevent these types of falls. Here's a list of things you can do to prevent falling and fracturing.

  • Shoes and boots should have good traction, so they work well on ice and snow.   If your shoes are old, invest in a new pair with good low wide-heel tread made from neoprene or rubber to give the most traction.
  • Assume all wet surfaces are slick and ask for help.   Most people would be happy to help you navigate a parking lot or street so don't be shy and ask for help.
  • Be prepared and carry a cell phone while outside, in case you do fall and can't find help.
  • Do weight bearing exercise regularly to keep your legs and bones strong.   If you do fall you'll stand a better chance of not fracturing.
  • Always have a shovel and salt on hand indoors so you can apply these when needed.
  • Remove shoes or boots once you are indoors, so you don't create wet and slick surfaces to walk on.
  • Keep your hands free and invest in a good pair of gloves so you don't put your hands in your pocket.   If you fall your hands will need to be at the ready.
  • Use a walking stick with an ice pick on the end to balance on slippery surfaces.
  • Protect your spine from fractures by leaning forward, during a fall, to prevent fractures of the spine, arm, wrist and hands.
  • Wear cleats on your shoes or boots, to give you more traction on slippery surfaces.   Be sure to remove these before going indoors because they are very slippery on indoor surfaces.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, falls for an older person are actually a substantial problem for a couple of reasons.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.

Use these tips to prevent falls during the winter or any time you approach a slippery surface to protect yourself from a catastrophic fracture.

Sources:

HealthDay. (1-19-2015) 5 Strategies to Avoid Winter Falls.   Retrieved:   2-8-15 from:   http://www.newsmaxhealth.com/Health-News/falls-winter-injury-hip/2015/01/19/id/619350/

U.S. Department of Transportation.   (2-11-15) Beyond Traffic.   Retrieved 2-11-15 from:   http://www.dot.gov/

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