Preventing Winter Slips, Trips and Falls

November is often a month of unpredictable weather conditions. Where I live, we could be experiencing a Chinook or a blizzard. But, for most of us, it isn’t uncommon to wake up and find ourselves in a winter wonderland on short notice. For some, the sight of snow is a pleasant surprise, but for others, it is a stressful awakening. Being unprepared for these chilly days can be of concern because it can sometimes lead to injury. The good news is that these injuries are completely avoidable and preventable.

November is also Seniors Falls Prevention month. Approximately 20 to 30 percent of Canadian seniors will experience one or more falls each year, some leading to lengthy hospital stays. Falls are the cause of 85 percent of hospitalizations for Canadian seniors. The cost to treat injuries from falls is over $2 billion annually in direct healthcare costs.

man walking on icy sidewalk

Regardless of your age, it is important to consider the risk of falling, especially in these winter months when the roads and walkways tend to be slippery. Everyone should be prepared and have the appropriate resources in order to limit the chances of you slipping, tripping, or falling this winter.

Walking on snowy and icy terrain is going to be risky regardless. However, we want to try and prevent the chance of getting hurt this winter by sharing some preventative tips and suggestions.

* Look First. Stop and take the time to survey the weather conditions before you leave your home. Some things to look out for are road and sidewalk conditions, current weather conditions, and any other potential hazards that may cause harm. Mother Nature is very unpredictable, and you never know what you will experience when you leave the house. It is also a good idea to limit the number of distractions when walking, such as talking on the phone, texting, or listening to music.

*Wear the Gear. After you have taken the time to check the outdoor conditions, you need to be appropriately prepared for those conditions by dressing properly. Footwear is a key component to preventing falls while walking on snow and ice-covered pathways. You’ll want to wear warm shoes or boots with good traction. The more traction your footwear has, the less chance you have of falling and injuring yourself.

*Buckle Up. The first step is choosing the footwear, the second step wearing them properly. I can’t tell you how many adults and kids I see wearing boots that are not laced or buckled up. It is very important that you are doing up your footwear so that your feet are secured properly. Making sure they’re done up tightly and correctly will reduce the chances of you falling and injuring yourself.

*Get Prepared. Practicing proper winter safety is crucial. Regularly clearing away snow and laying salt down on ice is a great way to prevent yourself and others from slipping or falling this winter. Another useful tip is to practice the penguin walk. Take short, slow steps with your arms by your side and concentrate on the steps you are taking.

*Ask For Help. If you are unable to shovel your snow or walk safely in winter conditions, it is important to ask for help from someone who can assist you. If no one is available that day, or you’re unsure you can manage yourself, wait until the weather conditions improve before venturing out.

Pondering these suggestions will help prevent any unnecessary injuries. The holiday season is here, and we want to enjoy this winter by staying safe.

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