Prevent Slips, Trips and Falls This Winter | Iredell Health System

If you are “dreaming of a white Christmas” you might want to watch where you are walking. While the snow can be beautiful, it can be a potential fall hazard and pose a real safety concern.

Winter conditions like ice and snow can be dangerous for anyone, but they are especially dangerous for the elderly. Every year, one in four adults aged 65 and over fall.

Falls can lead to various injuries such as broken wrists or arms, hip or knee fractures, rotator cuff tears, broken ankles, or concussions.

“All of these injuries will likely require post-treatment therapy and will have different recovery times depending on the type and severity of the injury,” said Darren Smith, director of rehabilitation services at Iredell Health System.

If you fall, even just once, it increases your chances of falling.

“After a fall, people often become fearful and try to limit their activity after a fall,” he said.

When you are inactive, your muscles start to weaken and your balance begins to decrease. This inactivity can increase your risk of another fall.

Fortunately, there are ways to reduce your risk of falling. To avoid slips, trips and falls this winter, try these strategies:

Keep moving
Exercise can improve the strength and balance of the legs, which can help you avoid falls. Try Tai Chi or Yoga to improve your balance.

Get your eyes checked
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a visual impairment more than doubles the risk of falling. Even small changes in your vision, like buying new glasses, can bring you down. See an optometrist at least once a year to make sure your vision has not changed.

Proceed with caution
When you get outside, take your time and walk slowly. Ice spots on the ground can be difficult to see. You might not know a place is icy until you’ve already slipped. You can “test” potentially slippery areas before walking on them by tapping them with your foot.

If there is snow or ice on your driveway, don’t be afraid to ask for help. You can use sidewalk salt, sand, or even cat litter to make the paths less slippery and provide better traction.

Watch out for slippery interior floors
Remember to check inside for slippery floors.

“You can follow the rain, snow and sleet from the outside as it melts to indoor temperatures. This melting makes the ground slippery, ”Smith said.

Make sure your floors are clear before entering your home.

Wear the appropriate outfit
“When you go out, wear warm clothing, including gloves and shoes with ‘traction’ soles,” Smith said.

Avoid shoes with high heels or soles made of a smooth, slippery material, such as leather, in freezing conditions.

Talk to your doctor
If you’re worried about falling this winter, talk to your primary care provider. Find out if any of your medications, health concerns, or lifestyle habits could make you more likely to fall.

Unfortunately, falls do occur. If you fall, follow the steps below.

What to do if you fall

  1. If it is safe to do so, stay still until you have recovered from the shock of the fall and know if you are injured.
  2. If you can’t get up, yell for help or crawl to the phone and dial 9-1-1. Try to make yourself comfortable while you are waiting for help, especially if you are alone.
  3. If it is safe to stand up, roll onto your side.
  4. Take a moment to rest as your body adjusts.
  5. Get on all fours and slowly crawl to a sturdy seat.
  6. Support your body by placing your hands on the seat. On your knees, slide one foot forward so that it is flat on the floor.
  7. Lift and slowly turn your body to sit on the seat.

Take the necessary measures to avoid falls and injuries. If you do fall, be sure to let your primary care provider know, even if you have not been injured.

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