Icefall

Be careful when walking outdoors

By ANNEMARIE SCHUETZ
Posted 2/17/22

REGION — It’s February, and sometimes our days crawl over 32 degrees Fahrenheit and the snow starts to melt.  

But it’s still winter. It freezes overnight, and the …

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Icefall

Be careful when walking outdoors

Posted

REGION — It’s February, and sometimes our days crawl over 32 degrees Fahrenheit and the snow starts to melt.  

But it’s still winter. It freezes overnight, and the snowmelt becomes a thin layer of tough-to-see ice.

“Just one bad fall on ice can have long-term consequences,” according to the Canada Safety Council (CSC), which knows a thing or two about dealing with winter weather.

Those consequences include “chronic pain in the affected area; a disabling injury that may mean loss of independence; or fear of another fall, which discourages a healthy, active lifestyle.”

That’s especially key if you’re a senior. “Even minor trauma can require hospitalization,” wrote Anne-marie Botek on Agingcare.com. Sometimes a senior doesn’t regain the level of functionality or confidence that was present before the fall. Recovery can take longer.

We just don’t bounce the way we used to.

But we can’t just stay indoors all winter, either. (Tempting as that sometimes sounds.) How can a senior walk safely on ice?

The CSC has some suggestions.

Be prepared

 Choose a good pair of winter boots. You want boots that are well-insulated and waterproof. The tread should be thick and made of rubber. Heels should be low and wide.  

Wear cleats. They don’t let you zip around on the ice with impunity, so be careful. But they’ll give you some extra protection. (And don’t wear them on smooth indoor surfaces, like ceramic or tile floors, the CSC adds. Take the cleats off—while sitting—before going inside.)

Consider using a cane with a retractable ice grip on the bottom. The cane will help with balance and the pick won’t just slip on the ice along with you. You can also use ski poles or a walker, depending on your needs. Check with your local medical-equipment store.

Wear hip protectors. They add padding over the hip area.

Wear bright colors or add reflective outerwear to your winter coat. That way, drivers can see you.

Carry a small bag of cat litter or sand, suggests the CSC. Don’t laugh. You can strew the grit in front of you and cross an icy bit of sidewalk safely.

Walking on ice

Slow down, think about your next move, and step mindfully. Keep your feet more than a foot apart and your knees loose and a little bent, the CSC recommends.

Walk like a penguin: Take small steps, putting your whole foot down at once. Then put your weight on that foot and bring the other one up. Keep that wide base of support.

Some people find it more secure to drag or shuffle their feet. That’s fine, says the CSC. Just keep your whole foot on the ice and keep your feet at least a foot apart.

For more information, visit the Canada Safety Council, https://canadasafetycouncil.org/safety-tips-for-winter-walking/.

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