By Charles Hummer III, M.D., orthopedic surgeon, Premier/Crozer-Keystone Orthopedics Partnership
When temperatures plunge and snow falls, so do people. One of the most dangerous winter hazards is the possibility of slipping and falling on patches of ice and snow.
Slipping and falling may leave you with a bruised bum and ego, but injuries can be much more serious, including lacerations, broken bones and even traumatic brain injuries.
Before you step outside into the frightful winter weather and wipe out on a patch of ice, here are some things you can do to prevent falling.
Keep an eye on the weather reports and plan your trips around them. If the weather is bad and you don’t need to go outside, don’t. Wait until the conditions improve and sidewalks are clear.
When you do go out, give yourself enough time to get where you’re going. You’ll be more likely to fall if you’re running late and rushing.
Look for the safest route to walk. If the sidewalk or entrance looks or seems icy, look for a different path that has been shoveled or has sun melting the ice.
Think about your footwear. It won’t matter how well your shoes match your outfit if you’re flat on your back after a fall. Choose boots or shoes that give you the best traction – think sturdy, flat-soled shoes or boots with heavy rubber soles.
Put your phone away and take your hands out of your pockets. Keeping your hands free will help you balance. If you do go down, you’ll be more likely to catch yourself with your hands before your head could hit the ground. You should also avoid trying to carry heavy loads or your kids in icy weather conditions – this can cause you to lose balance.
Even though it may feel silly, walk like a penguin. When you’re walking on an icy or snow-covered surface, take short, shuffling steps and curl your toes under to walk as flatfooted as possible. This will help you to maintain balance and make it less likely for your feet to slip out from under you.
If you’re getting out of your car, hold onto the door of your car for extra support. Many slips and falls happen during entry or exit from vehicles.
At home, remove snow immediately. Make sure your porch, steps, walkways and driveways are free of snow and ice by shoveling and applying ice-melting granules.
When you walk into a building, take advantage of the floor mats to dry off the soles of your shoes. This will keep you from slipping and will help people behind you to avoid walking on wet and slippery floors. At home, take your boots off and place them somewhere where they won’t get a floor wet and slippery when the snow on them melts.
If disaster strikes and you do fall this winter or otherwise injure yourself, physicians at the Premier/Crozer-Keystone Orthopedics Partnership are available to see you on a same or next business day basis. Please call us at 1-877-CKMOTION (1-877-256-6846) to arrange for a timely visit if necessary.