Winter has arrived, and with it comes the risk of slips and falls on ice. Every year, 1 million people sustain an injury due to slips and falls, with the risk increasing exponentially during the winter months due to ice. Statistics show that in a single year, over 30,000 people miss at least one day of work due to injuries caused by slipping and falling on ice. These injuries range from minor cuts and bruises to severe fractures, concussions, serious head injuries, and even paralysis.
While it’s not possible to eliminate the risk of falling on ice entirely, there are several steps you can take to minimize the likelihood of a slip or fall. Here are some tips to help you stay safe this winter:
Wear appropriate footwear
Invest in a pair of boots with good traction. Shoes with a rubber sole, deep tread, and firm grip will help you maintain your balance on slippery surfaces. Avoid wearing shoes with smooth soles, such as sneakers or dress shoes, as they offer little to no traction.
Take Small Steps
When walking on ice, take small steps to reduce your risk of falling. Doing this will help you maintain better control of your balance, especially if the surface is slippery.
Keep Your Hands Free
Try to keep your hands free when walking on ice. If you need to carry something, consider using a backpack or a messenger bag to keep your hands free. This will allow you to catch yourself if you start to slip.
Keep Your Head Up
Pay attention to your surroundings and keep your head up while walking on ice. You’ll be able to see any hazards, such as cracks in the ice or areas where the ice is particularly slippery, and adjust your path accordingly.
Walk Like A Penguin
If you’re feeling particularly unsteady, try walking like a penguin. Spread your legs apart for a wider stance, and take short, shuffling steps. You will maintain your balance and reduce your risk of falling.
In addition to the above, it’s also essential to try to control your environment when possible. If you have the ability (and permission!), then spreading salt, sand, or deicer on the area can make a huge difference. Similarly, if you notice a patch of ice that was once a puddle, see if you can break it up and move the ice pieces out of the way.
Finally, one of the most important things you can do is to carry your cell phone with you and make it easily accessible so that if you have a fall resulting in an injury, you can call for help. If you have a smartwatch, you can set it to detect any serious falls and automatically place a call to 9-1-1 and/or your pre-determined emergency contacts.
By following these tips, you’ll be able to reduce your risk of slips and falls on ice. However, exercising caution is always important, especially in winter weather. If you’re unsure about a particular surface, avoid it if possible. Remember, safety first!