Ice is virtually unavoidable during Minnesota winters. Every time you venture out of your home, you face the task of walking on slippery ice patches on sidewalks, in parking lots, and anywhere else you might venture. “According to the Workers Compensation Fund, slips, trips and falls are second only to traffic accidents as the cause of accidental deaths in the United States. Snowy, icy sidewalks and parking lots were the culprit in 80 percent of these incidents” (SafeBee). It is clear that slipping on ice is no joke and can result in very serious injury, so let’s cover how to avoid it and what to do in case you do take a tumble.
Prevent Falls on Ice
When it comes to winter safety, practicing proper prevention is essential to avoiding serious injury. Here are the top 5 tips to avoid falling on the ice:
- Give yourself enough time. Rushing on the ice is the easiest way to suffer a fall. Give yourself a few extra minutes – that’s all you need – so you can take your time when navigating icy surfaces.
- Wear proper footwear. Shoes or boots with soles that provide traction and place the whole foot on the ground are the best choice for everyday use in the winter.
- Assume there is ice on every surface. Even when a sidewalk or parking lot might look safe, there is still a risk of ice being present. Always practice caution to avoid an unexpected surprise.
- Focus. It is especially important to stay focused when walking on icy surfaces. Keep your phone in your pocket, be aware of your surroundings, and keep your eyes looking forward.
- Walk like a penguin. Changing how you walk in the winter can help avoid a fall. Safety experts across the board recommend walking like a penguin. Spread your feet out wider than normal, lean slightly forward, take small steps, and place your arms at your side with hands out of pockets.
Check out this video below from the Mayo Clinic for even more information on winter walking safety.
What to do After a Fall
Sometimes, no matter how much you try to prevent it, a fall on the ice can still happen. If you slip on the ice this winter, here is what to do:
- Take inventory. Immediately check in with your body. Does any part of your body involved in the fall feel like it could be broken or sprained? Did you hit your head? Were you knocked out? If you answer yes to any of these questions, a trip to the ER would be wise.
- Get Up Slowly. Even if you don’t feel it right away, there is a chance that you may have injured your back, neck, etc. in the fall. Get up slowly with assistance if possible to prevent the risk of falling again.
- Take inventory again. If you start to experience persistent pain that is more severe than a bruise or normal soreness after a fall, it’s time to get checked out. You may want to visit your primary care provider for an initial assessment, and then visit your local physical therapy office to get on the road to recovery!
We hope these tips help to keep you safe during these snowy, icy winter months. If you or someone you love does experience a fall, schedule an appointment today and we will help to address the source of your pain and restore movement.