Emergency departments in the United States treat 3 million older adults for fall-related injuries each year. As the leading cause of traumatic brain injury and hip fractures, falls can cause serious harm. Cold and wet conditions can increase fall risk, but some simple changes can help keep you safer this winter, according to Mike McGee, a trauma prevention expert at North Kansas City Hospital.
Here are best practices for snow and ice, including the right and wrong things to do.
• Clear walkways and test unknown surfaces for black ice or slippery conditions
• Walk like a penguin — place arms at sides to shift your center of gravity and improve balance; point feet slightly outward and shuffle in short, flat-footed strides
• Wear footwear with good traction
• Wipe off or remove shoes when coming indoors, as wet shoes can make smooth surfaces slippery
• Have your hands full or stowed in pockets; free hands may prevent or break a fall
• Rush; taking it slow while getting in and out of the car and in parking lots is key
• Walk in uncleared or unlit areas
• Wear clothing that can tangle you up (house robe) or prevent moving freely