Snow may be beautiful, but the ice it brings with it can result in all sorts of different injuries. It’s important to ensure that you’re walking safely on snow and ice. The National Safety Council estimates that 300,000 injuries and 1500 deaths per year are caused by falls. A quarter of slip and fall injuries occurred while walking into work, and a third occurred in parking lots. More than 50% of falls on snow and ice result in serious injury.
We’ve compiled a helpful list of tips for walking safely on snow and ice for you to utilize all winter long. With some adjustments and a lot of care, you can prevent injuries. While our physical therapists are here to help you recover from any injuries you do sustain over the winter, we care about helping you avoid injuries, not just recovering from them.
Here are some of our top tips for walking safely on snow and ice.
#1. Take It Slow And Give Yourself Time
In our modern world, everything is go-go-go. In the winter, however, you want to try to take it slow-slow-slow. Going fast in the winter months is reserved for experienced snow sports athletes. For everyone else, going too fast while driving can result in losing control of your car and ending up in an accident. Going too fast while walking can cause you to slip and fall.
That’s why one of the most important tips for walking safely on snow and ice is to plan ahead to give yourself extra time. Even if you’re running late, taking that bit of extra time to ensure that you’re steady footed is much better than rushing into the office only to end up with an injury.
Assume that any surface is slippery and icy and take short steps or shuffle to maintain stability. While it may be tempting to cut across what seems like a shortcut, stick to designated walkways.
#2. Use Support And Maintain Your Center Of Gravity
When entering or exiting your vehicle, keeping your center of gravity over your supporting leg and using the handrails can prevent a fall. When you go up and down stairs, you’ll want to use any available handrails to help, too.
Keep your hands out of your pockets. Point your feet out, like a penguin, especially if there are icy areas. Both of these increase your center of gravity and make it easier to catch yourself if you do fall.
#3. Keep Your Hands As Free As Possible
Talking on the phone or gathering all of your things before you exit your car may be fine in the warmer months. However, in the winter months, you’ll want to avoid anything that could throw off your balance and impact your ability for walking safely on snow and ice.
Instead of getting your coffee and then getting out of your car, take the time to ensure that there’s no ice that will send your feet flying out from under you first. Once you’re out of the car, then you can retrieve any items that you need from your car.
#4. Be Prepared To Fall
Knowing how to fall safely is something that people who do winter sports learn, and it’s something you should too. Your priority is to protect your head and to avoid bracing yourself on more fragile parts of your body, like your hands.
If you feel yourself falling, try to relax as much as possible. This may seem counterintuitive, but you’ll sustain less harm if you’re relaxed rather than tensed up. Drop anything that you are carrying and roll with the fall. Bend your elbows and knees and try to keep the impact to the fleshiest parts of your body, like your butt. You want to avoid falling on your wrists, knees, or spine, as these are more likely to be injured.
Tuck your head, and if you are falling to the side, tilt it up, away from the ground. If you’re not falling to the side, try to rotate your body so that you take more of the impact on your side, rather than your front or your back.
Have You Been Injured?
Even if you’re doing everything that you can to ensure that you’re walking safely on snow and ice, you can still slip and fall. If you’ve been injured and need physical therapy, Wasatch Peak Physical Therapy is here to help. Contact us today to learn more about our physical therapy services and let us help you on the path to recovery.