10 Tips to Avoid Trips, Slips and Falls in Winter Weather

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 in Iowa can be especially rough. Iowans are often hit with the wombo-combo of rain, snow, freezing temperatures and extreme wind. 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.

Since very few people are trained Olympic ice skaters, 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. Get Your Eyes Checked

It may seem simple, but keeping your eyesight in good condition can help prevent potential falls. Seeing everything in front of you will help you to determine where to walk and where to avoid. If that ice looks suspicious now, think of what it might look like if you had a hard time seeing it.

7. Fence in Your Yard

Having a dog as a pet can be a wonderful experience, but one downside is that they have to be let outside several times everyday. If you live in an apartment or a house without a fence, this usually means you have to go out and walk your dog. If possible, think about fencing in your yard to prevent the need for going outside so much in bad weather. If that’s not possible, or if your dog won’t do its business without a walk, make sure to follow all of the other winter safety tips.

8. 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.

9. Use Salt

After a snow or ice storm, be sure to use salt, ice melt or sand to increase traction on sidewalks and driveways. This additional traction can be a deciding factor in whether or not you slip and fall.

10. 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. Accidents happen, and in the event that you do become injured from a winter fall, count on UnityPoint Clinic - Orthopedic Services in Fort Dodge to get you back on your feet. Do you live outside of the Fort Dodge area? Find a doctor near you.

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