With Halloween having just passed, winter is right around the corner. The season can bring a lot of wonderful things: hot chocolate, time off with the family, and even snow if you live in the right places. But winter also brings an increase in slip and trip hazards. Did you know that approximately 30,000 adults aged ≥65 years died as a result of a fall in 2016? We wrote a handy guide to help you and your loved ones stay safe this season to help with slips, trips, and fall prevention in winter.
1. Constant Vigilance
The best thing you can do for slip, trip, and fall prevention in winter is just to be mindful of where you’re stepping. Always make sure your walkways are clear, both inside and outside of your home. While walking outdoors can be particularly treacherous, winter weather conditions also increase the risk of slipping indoors with wet footwear or losing one’s balance when walking fast to escape the cold. Falls can result in broken or fractured bones, muscle strains, head injuries, and may lead to death. Recovering from a broken bone can be particularly difficult for seniors, and the recovery process can be very lonely if you are confined to your home in the winter months.
2. Get the Gear
Walking around in the wet and cold requires sturdy, non-slip shoes that will also keep your feet warm and dry to prevent frostbite. Be sure to wipe your feet off thoroughly before coming inside to further your slip, trip, and fall prevention in winter. If you use a cane to get around, be sure to replace the rubber tip regularly so it does not get worn down. You may also want to consider replacing your cane tip with an ice pick style attachment if you live in a place with frequent black ice.
3. Take it Slow
One of the best methods of slip, trip, and fall prevention in winter is to just take your time getting from one place to another. Being mindful and walking carefully from place to place is one of the best things you can do for fall prevention. Try to make sure your hands are free so you can use them to break your fall if it does happen, or just to hold on to safety rails if you’re going up or down some stairs.
Immediate action steps if/when a fall occurs
What are the best actions for patients to take if they fall or someone nearby takes a tumble on the ice and snow?
We suggest that if a winter fall occurs, patients and community members should be encouraged to follow these steps:
- Don’t get up right away or let anyone help you up immediately; this avoids the potential for further injury. Don’t worry about feeling embarrassed. Rather, take your time, lie there for a moment, and assess how you are feeling.
- After assessing your injury status, if you can get up, roll to one side. Bend your knees toward you, push up with your arms, and then use your legs to stand up the rest of the way.
- If someone helps you to your feet, ensure that he or she doesn’t get hurt, too.
- Use your cellphone or mobile medical alert device if you need assistance getting up from a fall. In many communities, fire departments are available to help citizens get up from falls, even if no injury is present.
- Call 911 or emergency medical help if the fall has led to an emergency.
We hope this guide has been helpful and that you will stay safe this winter! If you have difficulties getting around your home, HomeLift is here to help. Call us today to get started on your mobility improvement journey today.