With winter weather finally settling in for the season, many Canadians are taking extra precautions to prevent the slick and icy surfaces outside from causing slips and falls. While some are simply avoiding a wintery slip to avoid minor bruises, falls can be a serious matter of health for others. Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken to avoid getting hurt this winter and all year.
Who is Vulnerable to Falling?
Everyone can benefit from tips on how to avoid falls, especially in the winter. Canadians who are likely to be injured easily from falling, as well as those that might be prone to falling more often, should both be concerned with falling risks this winter – and these two risks often overlap.
Elderly people, people with osteoporosis, and people with other illnesses that make them more likely to break bones from a fall could end up being seriously injured even by falling from standing. For these individuals, each fall could cause serious damage, so minimizing risk in all seasons is important.
Many people are more prone to falls than others, too. People with reduced mobility and coordination can be at higher risk for trips, slips, and falls, and are often less able to get back up. Being at risk for more falls can mean that they are more likely to get injured or that they could even experience an emergency if they fall and can’t get up or get help.
Risks of Falls
While slipping and falling can be a simple inconvenience to some, it also has the potential to cause injury. Even falling from standing height has the potential to cause muscle or bone injury, as well as scrapes and bruises. In the winter months when things are the most slick out, a fall could also cause serious harm if someone slips and is unable to get back up, leaving them vulnerable and in the cold until help can arrive.
Illnesses like osteoporosis raise the risk of injury from a fall significantly. Osteoporosis is a bone disease that is relatively common in Canadians over 50. It causes weakening of bones through the loss of bone tissue. With less bone density, bones become brittle and far more susceptible to damage and breaking, even from minor falls. Early diagnosis and preventative treatment to maintain bone density is important to live a healthy life with osteoporosis, and are important to help avoid injuries, especially in the winter.
How To Avoid Winter Injuries:
Keep these tips in mind to stay safe in the winter:
- Wear winter boots with good grips or consider wearing additional metal grips on the soles of shoes when walking outside.
- Keep your walkways clear of ice and snow, and use salt or a salt substitute to get rid of hidden ice.
- Turn your outside lights on as you leave if you’ll be returning after dark so you will have enough lighting to get inside safely.
Other Fall Prevention Tips:
- Use handles and railings whenever possible, especially on stairs. Keep to carpeted areas/rugs with good traction to avoid slips.
- Wear low-heeled shoes with grippy rubber soles.
- Look at indoor floors carefully. Be aware that polished surfaces might be slippery, especially if wet.
- Use a shoulder bag, backpack, or fanny pack instead of a purse or handbag to keep your hands unoccupied.
- Inquire about community services to help you out, like 24 hour pharmacies, or grocery and drug stores that can deliver.
- Use mobility aids, like canes or walkers, when appropriate or recommended by your doctor.
Falls can be dangerous for anyone, where an incident that lasts a fraction of a second could have health impact lasting for months or even the rest of your life. With such potentially serious consequences, it’s important to follow these easy steps to stay safe.