The icy ground outside your door, and on public sidewalks and parking lots, makes winter a treacherous time. And the older we get, the harder it is to recover from slips and falls. We’ve put together several pieces of advice to help you avoid wintery slips and falls.
- Look before you step – If that wet patch up ahead looks like ice, avoid it. It’s also important to keep one eye on your next step and the other a few feet ahead of you. Move slowly and find the path of least resistance – in this case, the least snow-covered ice.
- Wear the right shoes – Even if you are required to wear dress shoes to work, put the high heels in a bag and wear boots with rough or textured soles when walking on outside snow and ice. Boots give you much more traction than any dress shoe. Here are some hints to make your boots even more slip-proof to further protect yourself from falling.
- Use handrails – Whenever a railing is available, use it. Railings have been proven to keep people upright when they begin to slip.
- Watch the floors – Once you make it inside, you’re still not in the clear. Watch out for places where other people have walked, because it’s very likely some of them have tracked-in snow and ice on their shoes. Mix it with tile, linoleum or polished wood, and you’ve got a slip-and-fall accident waiting to happen. Watch where you take your first few steps indoors to avoid these hazards.
- Relax – If you’re about to fall, tensing-up can actually injure you more. By relaxing and keeping yourself from fighting the fall, you can prevent more serious injuries. If you’re falling forward, try to roll with the fall. If you are falling backward, try to sit down on your bottom, or throw an arm out to help absorb some of the shock from a fall, which is an old judo trick.
- Getting your eyes checked – This is one of your best preventative measures. The hazards you can see are those you can avoid. Keep your eyesight in good condition and help prevent potential falls.
- Exercise – The best way to help improve your balance and increase flexibility is to exercise daily. Yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates are all great for improving your balance. Exercises such as toe stands, leg extensions, knee curls, and other simple movements help make your muscles stronger.
- Use rock salt – After a snow or ice storm around your home, lay down a generous layer of rock salt, ice melt, or sand (or mixtures of these elements) to increase traction and prevent a slip and fall on your sidewalks, back yard patios and driveways.
- Dress properly – Wear several layers of loose-fitting clothing. Tight garments can impair your circulation, says Sharon Brangman, M.D., chief of geriatrics at SUNY Upstate Medical University. Wool or silk hold heat better than cotton and don’t absorb moisture. Then top-off that thick winter coat with a warm hat, scarf, and gloves because extremities get coldest first; then not only can you keep warm, you’ve also got good padding all around your body “just in case” you slip on the ice.
- Avoid alcohol – It actually lowers your core temperature and can cause your body to lose heat more quickly. You need to be alert when negotiating icy sidewalks. Hot non-alcoholic beverages like steaming cider, chocolate, coffee or tea WITHOUT the libation are best – and still keep you alert to your surroundings.
If you need legal assistance after a fall, please call The Kaplan Law Firm at 516-399-2364 or fill out our online contact form.