Winter has decided to visit North Texas today. Two inches of ice covered by snow, and just in time for the Super Bowl. Time to think about trying to prevent slip and fall injuries. Lots of people fall on ice and snow every year-without serious injury. Not so fortunate were some 16,000 Americans who die each year from falls, according to the National Safety Council (NSC).
Falls rival poisoning as the number one home accident in the U.S. The number of injuries or deaths from falls due to winter conditions is not recorded by the NSC. But, safety experts agree that many injuries result from falls on ice-covered surfaces.
It's important that individuals recognize the hazards of slippery surfaces. Here are helpful hints from winter-safety experts that will reduce the risk of falling when slippery conditions exist:
1. Wear boots or overshoes with soles. Avoid walking in shoes that have smooth surfaces, which increase the risk of slipping.
2. Walk consciously. Be alert to the possibility that you could quickly slip on an unseen patch of ice. Avoid the temptation to run to catch a bus or beat traffic when crossing a street.
3. Walk cautiously. Your arms help keep you balanced, so keep hands out of pockets and avoid carrying heavy loads that may cause you to become off balance.
4. Walk "small." Avoid an erect, marching posture. Look to see ahead of where you step.
5. When you step on icy areas, take short, shuffling steps, curl your toes under and walk as flatfooted as possible.
6. Remove snow immediately before it becomes packed or turns to ice. Keep your porch stoops, steps, walks and driveways free of ice by frequently applying ice melter granules. This is the best way to prevent formation of dangerous ice patches. Waiting for it to melt can sometimes take days!
Even when you practice safe walking habits, slipping on ice is sometimes unavoidable.
It takes, on average, less than two seconds from the moment you slip until you hit the ground. That's precious little time to react. In that instant, the risk is an injury to your head, a wrist, hip, ankle or shoulder.
When falling, it is best to use a tuck-and-roll principle. It's important to tuck your body, lift your head and avoid trying to break the fall with a hand, which can cause a wrist injury. Ask Dr Karpati about her broken wrist from skiing the next time you are in the office. The idea is to make yourself as small as possible by rolling up into a ball.
People in North Texas hardly ever think about falling on ice and snow, but serious injuries can occur. If you are a klutz or are planning to spend a lot of time in the cold; following these guidelines may help protect you from serious injury this winter. If you do happen to fall and sprain your ankle or foot, call the office. Help is just a phone call away! And remember, just because you can walk on it doesn't mean it is not broken.