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Prevent slips and falls this winter

Winter is right around the corner.

Winter is right around the corner. That means that most people will be trading in windbreakers and rakes for heavy coats and snow shovels. Winter can be a beautiful time of the year, but the snow and ice that covers the landscape in a pristine sheet of white can present certain hazards as well.

Walking on ice can be extremely dangerous, particularly to those people who already may have mobility issues, such as the elderly. According to the National Safety Council, slips and falls are the single largest cause of emergency room visits. Slip and fall injuries also are the third largest cause of workplace injuries, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Many accidental falls occur from lack of stability or poor physical health. However, come winter, many falls can be attributed to walking on slippery surfaces covered with snow or ice. To avoid falls on ice, men and women might want to take certain precautions.

Change the way you walk

Adapting to the slippery conditions could help prevent some of the falls caused by snow and ice. When walking on ice, plant feet with toes facing outward slightly, and then shuffle along. Hunching over a little and extending arms outward will help to lower your center of gravity and also offer a little more stability. Take short, flat steps so that the heels and toes of your shoes stay in contact with the ground as much as possible and offer maximum surface contact.

You should not take large strides or move quickly. This can definitely lead to slips and falls. Rather, leave extra time to get to and fro, especially when walking to mass transit or to and from your car when commuting.

Switch Shoes

Flat shoes with rubber soles are more capable of gripping the ice than other types of shoes. Contrary to popular belief, clunky winter boots may make walking more difficult. Try rain boots instead, as rain boots typically have flatter soles. There also are many different types of shoe ice grips on the market that can be added to the soles of shoes. They easily slip on to offer more traction. Whenever possible, try to avoid shoes with already slippery soles or high heels. Carry these shoes with you and change after you are inside.

Treat walkways

Keeping on top of falling snow can help alleviate slippery walkways. Use a combination of snowmelt and sand so that you can keep sidewalks clear.

Remove shoes indoors

Slips and falls can happen inside a home as well. Many people have tile or laminate entryways in their homes, and these entrances can become quite slippery when snow-packed shoes warm up and the snow melts, creating a wet, slick surface. Avoid falls by placing mats by the front door and removing shoes when you enter. Stash a pair of slippers nearby into which you can change.

Pack light

Carrying heavy bags can disrupt your center of gravity and contribute to falls. Whenever possible, travel light or use a backpack to evenly distribute weight to help you walk more easily.

Falls on slippery surfaces can be quite dangerous. Avoid trips to the emergency room for broken bones or abrasions by slowing down, dressing appropriately and walking on paths that have been cleared of snow and ice.

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