Winter – a.k.a. – the long dark cold time – has arrived. Whether you are walking outdoors to hold off the winter blues or simply dashing into work on a cold day – staying upright can be a challenge. Injuries to the back or head along with broken hips and broken arms are among the most common winter slip and fall incidents. Be a “defensive walker” just like you use defensive driving to avoid accidents. We offer these safety tips and reminders to help you battle the darkness, low temperatures, and slippery conditions;
- Beware the Black Ice. Temperature changes allow a thin layer of vapor to freeze on cold surfaces. This nearly invisible layer of ice can form no matter how well snow and ice is removed.
- Do the Penguin Walk or the “Shuffle.” Walk with your feet pointed out, arms by your sides (not carrying a full load or in your pockets!), head up scanning for hazards and remember small steps. Rushing is not your friend during the winter.
- Go Sideways on Hills or Inclines. Turn sideways and take a step with the uphill foot and then move the other foot alongside it. It may take longer but you’re more likely reach your destination uninjured.
- Be Seen. Wear bright, reflective clothing to be seen in the street, crosswalks and parking lots. Even one piece of reflective clothing can pay off in a low light situation.
- Walk with a Flashlight or Flashing LED Light in Low or Dim Light Situations. Being seen is critical.
- Walk with a Buddy, Facing traffic (if no sidewalks) and Cross at Crosswalks. There is strength in numbers. Walking with a buddy is an especially good idea if you are walking in low light situations. When a car approaches remember to move over and walk single file. Even though pedestrians have the right of way, move over or away rather than be “dead right.”
- Consider Traction Devices (ice cleats) for consistently icy areas. Just remember while they may help you stay upright on ice, they are also likely to cause a fall on dry pavement. Use accordingly and to manufacturer’s directions.
- Remove Snow from your Shoes when Entering a Building. Hard flat surfaces will be slippery when the snow melts.
- If You do Fall – drop anything you may have in your hands, bend your arms and go limp and roll to help prevent serious injury.
Please focus and take extra steps this winter to arrive at your destination safely.
By Kathi Hegranes, Injury Prevention Coordinator, Theda Clark Medical Center