Every year, 1.2 million people are hospitalized for fall-related injuries, according to the CDC. One of the most common causes of these injuries is slipping and falling on ice. It takes just a fraction of a second to slip and fall on slick, icy surfaces.
Injuries from slips and falls can be mild or they can be catastrophic. While there is no surefire way to prevent falls, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk this winter.
Common Injuries from Slipping and Falling on Ice
Slipping and falling can be a scary experience, especially if it catches you off-guard. Anyone can slip and fall on ice, but these accidents can be especially dangerous for seniors.
Injuries can vary greatly depending on where the fall took place, your physical condition, and other environmental factors.
Common injuries from slips and falls on ice include:
- Broken bones, such as hip or wrist fractures
- Sprained ankles
- Back injuries
- Spinal cord injuries (in severe cases)
- Muscle and ligament strains
- Concussions and other head injuries
Even minor injuries often warrant a trip to the doctor.
6 Ways to Protect Yourself from Slips and Falls on Ice This Winter
Prevention is key when it comes to slip and fall injuries. There are several steps you can take to protect yourself and avoid a potentially life-changing injury.
1. Wear Non-Slip Shoes
One effective way to prevent slips and falls is to wear the right shoes. Flat footwear with non-slip soles will provide some traction to help prevent falls.
You can also purchase shoe ice grips that attach to the bottom of your shoes to provide even more traction. If you live in an area that gets a lot of snow and ice, these grips are worth the investment to prevent dangerous slips and falls.
2. Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Pay attention to roadways and walkways. Be mindful of your surroundings. If you see ice on the sidewalk or the pavement outside of your car door, be prepared. Take short steps, or avoid these icy areas if possible. If you’re exiting your vehicle, you can hold onto the car for support and avoid sliding.
Black ice can be especially dangerous because it’s so hard to see. You can check for this type of ice by testing the pavement or walkway before you step onto it.
Always be mindful of where you’re walking. Keep your phone in your pocket, and watch your steps until you arrive safely indoors.
“Everyone is always on the go, and it takes just one second of not paying attention to wipe out and do real damage when it’s icy outside,” says Jennifer Lentz, P.T., D.P.T. of ProFitness Physical Therapy.
3. Clear and Treat Walkways
Slips and falls don’t just happen in public places. They can happen right in your driveway or at your front door. Fortunately, you have complete control over the snow and ice removal at your home.
Take the time to carefully clear walkways and driveways. Lay down rock salt or traction agents to make icy areas less dangerous.
If you don’t have the time or ability to remove ice and snow yourself, it’s worth the expense to hire someone to take care of the clearing for you.
4. Avoid Uncleared Areas if Possible
If at all possible, avoid walking on areas that haven’t already been cleared. Areas that have already been salted or sanded will be safer than other areas. Patches of snow can also be deceiving because you don’t know how much ice may be sitting underneath.
If you can’t avoid uncleared areas, take your time, and tread carefully.
5. Work on Your Balance and Flexibility
The better your balance and flexibility, the easier it will be to catch yourself before you fall or to avoid one in the first place.
Try performing exercises that will improve your balance and coordination. Yoga can help with flexibility as well as balance.
Although this will require dedication and consistency, the rewards are worth the effort.
6. Fall Safely
Unfortunately, accidents do happen, and falls may be unavoidable. Doing your best to break your fall properly can help reduce the risk of catastrophic injuries.
If a fall is unavoidable, try not to stick out your hand to break the fall. Landing on your wrist can cause a fracture or sprain. Instead, try landing on your behind. The padding will help reduce the impact. Try keeping your elbows bent and your body loose. If your body is stiff, this can increase the risk of fracturing a bone.
Have You Been Injured by Slipping and Falling on Ice?
If you were injured in a slip and fall accident on ice, contact a slip and fall attorney right away. You may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation to review your case.