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Senior Safety on Slippery Winter Surfaces

Walk slowly and purposefully on snow and ice.
Walk slowly and purposefully on snow and ice.
~ Photograph: Brook Fabian ~

The blustery winter season brings slippery sidewalks and dangerous driveways for seniors who venture out to run errands or collect their mail. A fall can lead to broken bones and fractures, with the hip, ankle, and wrist being the most common injuries.

There are several ways to help reduce the risk of falling or slipping this season:

  • Arrange to have snow removed immediately before it becomes packed down.
  • Don’t venture out into the snow alone. If you must go out, carry a fully charged cell phone or emergency call system.
  • Apply a salt-free de-icer to porch, steps and walkways – apply frequently, especially as the temperature drops.
  • Keep your hands free – don’t attempt to carry heavy items.
  • Wear shoes or boots with heavily textures soles. Shoes with smooth soles should never be worn on ice.
  • Ice cleats can be very helpful when walking on ice or packed snow.
  • Watch where you are walking – look for black ice before proceeding. Be especially careful when exiting the car.
  • Have a family member walk with you to help stabilize.
  • Use public transportation when possible to keep from driving in bad weather.
  • Go outdoors only during the warmest part of the day if possible.
  • Don’t go outside in bad weather at night or in the dark. Be sure there’s ample lighting.
  • Stock up on groceries and supplies so you don’t need to go outside if the weather is really bad.
  • Have a neighbor or family member get the newspaper or mail.
  • When entering a building, utilize the door mat to dry shoes thoroughly. Floors can be extremely slippery in winter when wet.

There are also ways to keep your body in shape and reduce the risk of falling:

  • With your doctors permission, take calcium supplements to increase bone strength.
  • Do some simple daily stretches and exercises to keep the body limber.
  • Strengthen the body with balance exercise.
  • Perform ankle rotation exercises to increase strength.

Talk to your elderly friend or family member about winter safety. Go over the above items with them and be sure they are aware of the dangers. Let’s keep everyone safe this season!

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