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Safety Tips

Winter Slips, Trips and Falls Awareness 

(posted on December 4, 2017)

Have you fallen and you can’t get up? Those timeless commercials probably make you roll your eyes, but falls are actually the leading cause of nonfatal injuries in adults 45 and older. Not only do falls happen any time of year, but winters can be especially rough. While the ice sculptures mother nature creates are pretty when you’re indoors, facing the treacherous walk from your office to your car, or your house to the mailbox, can become an Oympic sport.

It’s important to think about fall prevention techniques before winter becomes even colder. Most adults who fracture a bone do so because of a fall. Protect yourself from trips and slips with these winter safety tips.

1. Look Before You Step
The best way to keep from falling is to watch where you are stepping. If that wet patch up ahead looks like it might be ice, avoid it. It’s also important to look ahead at what you might be walking into. Move slowly and examine your surroundings. Find the path of least resistance, or in this case, the least snow-covered ice.

2. Wear the Right Shoes
Even if you are required to wear dress shoes to work, high heels and ice don’t mix. Wear boots with rough or textured soles to trek through the snow and ice. These boots will give you much more traction than any dress shoe. While changing into and out of different shoes might seem like a hassle, it’s much more important to protect yourself from falling.

3. Use Handrails
Whether you’re inside or outside, handrails are available to you for a reason. Think of Iowa like an ice skating rink. Seems pretty accurate, right? Well, ice skating rinks have railings! They obviously work. Whenever a railing is available to you, use it. Railings have been proven to keep people upright when they begin to slip.

4. Watch the Floors
Even after you have made it inside, watch out for places that other people have walked. Snow and ice from other people’s shoes will most likely have melted into lovely, brown messes on the floor. Mix that in with tile or linoleum, and you have a recipe for disaster. Watch where you are walking for your first few steps inside to avoid these potential slipping hazards.

5. Relax
Tensing up when you fall can actually cause you to injure yourself more. While it sounds impossible, relaxing and keeping yourself from fighting the fall can prevent serious injuries from happening. If you are falling forward, try to roll with the fall. If you are falling backward, attempt to sit down on your bottom. 

6. Stay Aware of Your Surroundings
Seeing everything in front of you will help you to determine where to walk and where to avoid. If a spot looks suspicious, make sure to avoid it.  After a snow or ice storm, be sure to walk on surfaces that have been treated with salt, ice melt or sand to increase traction.  This additional traction can be a deciding factor in whether or not you slip and fall.

 


7. Exercise
There are several exercises you can do to help improve balance, increase flexibility and make yourself stronger. Yoga and T'ai Chi are great for improving balance. Exercises like toe stands, knee curls, leg extensions and simple movements in swimming pools can make your muscles stronger.

8. Stay Inside
If the weather has gone from bad to worse and you’re not sure if your car can make it up that hill, stay inside. That trip to the mall or grocery store can wait. If possible, staying indoors and out of the elements will be your best defense against winter spills. Many grocery stores offer a delivery service that will bring food right to your door.

Winter in the Midwest can be beautiful, and dangerous. Protect yourself by keeping these winter safety tips in mind.

 

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