It can happen in a heartbeat – you are walking on the sidewalk and you fail to see that it is icy and you fall. While sometimes a fall can result in no harm, other days it can mean a fracture or even a head injury. Falling is one of the most common injuries suffered by adults. The Center for Disease and Control cites that:
- One out of five falls causes a serious injury such as broken bones or a head injury.
- Each year, 3 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries.
- Over 800,000 patients a year are hospitalized because of a fall injury, most often because of a head injury or hip fracture.
- Each year at least 300,000 older people are hospitalized for hip fractures.
- More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling.
- Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries.
While many facilities treat sidewalks, this does not assure that the surface is not icy when temperatures are near or below freezing. It is important for you to always be aware of the hazards of slippery sidewalks and roadways.
There are several things that can be done to reduce the risk of falling and fall injuries when there are slippery conditions.
- Wear proper footwear. Boots or shoes with grip soles will reduce your risk of slipping.
Check Your Surroundings:
- Make sure to check the surface when you open the door of your vehicle. If you see that the ground appears to be icy move to a different parking space.
- Test an area for being potentially slippery by tapping your foot on it before walking.
- Don’t walk on uneven surfaces. Avoid curbs and surfaces with ice on them.
- Keep your walkways clear of debris, water, ice and slippery materials.
- Walking with your hands in your pockets can throw off your balance.
- Take short shuffling steps on icy areas.
- Carrying objects could lead to poor balance.
- Place your full attention on walking. Using your phone is a distraction and can easily lead to a fall.
If you do find yourself in a situation where you know that you are going to fall:
- If at all possible, try to roll with the fall. Relax as much as possible when you begin to fall. If you are carrying an object, drop it and protect yourself instead of the objects being carried.
Falling is never fun, and if you do find yourself suffering a nasty fall, it is important to seek medical attention to rule out the possibility of a break or a concussion.