Don’t Become a Victim of the Icy Conditions!
You might think that most falls occur when the snow is falling, but the Estes Park Health Director of EMS, Guy Beesley, says that is not the case. “We see most of our outdoor falls one to two days after an accumulating snowfall. This is when people are ready to get out of their homes and falling in parking lots, on sidewalks and in their driveways is very common. These falls usually result in orthopedic injuries, but some falls have resulted in significant traumatic brain injuries with bleeding inside the brain.”
In every article that talks about how to prevent winter falls, having the proper foot wear is the main priority. Guy shared, “If folks want to prevent falls, they should have the proper footwear – shoes or boots with rough, waffled, ridged or heavily textured soles.” Guy also suggests adding some sort of additional winter traction like Yaktracks and trekking poles for balance. Guy encourages everyone to “walk deliberately” and concentrate on every step. Try to think a few steps ahead and plan your next movement before you do them.
Here are some additional tips for walking in the snow:
- Take your time! Days after a snow fall is no time to rush. It is better to be a little late, than to be in the Emergency Department.
- Keep your weight forward and walk like a penguin. This position provides greater stability.
- Avoid walking on highly compacted snow. Compacted snow can quickly turn to ice underneath.
We’ve even come up with some tips you might not have considered:
- Get your eyes checked. Being able to see what is in front of you can help avoid a potential fall.
- Use Yoga or Tai Chi to improve your core strength and balance. Both of these classes are offered at the Estes Valley Community Center. You can also learn balance exercises by visiting a Physical Therapist at Estes Park
- Look before you step out of your car. What might look like a wet patch could easily be black ice.
- Keep your walkways clear and use salt, ice melt or sand to increase traction. If you are not normally physically active, get someone to help clear your walkways.
- If you really don’t have to go somewhere – don’t go. When you made that lunch appointment, who knew we’d get eight inches of snow? Reschedule your “to-do list”, stay inside and keep yourself and your friends safe.
If you do start to slip, try to roll with the fall if you begin to fall forward. Or, sit down if you begin to fall backward. This may sound very counterintuitive but try to relax during your fall. When a falling person relaxes, an injury is less severe than when they tense up. Fighting a fall on ice can cause twisting or bending injuries which may be worse than the bump the fall would have produced.
So, wear good boots, invest in some additional traction like Yaktracks, use trekking poles and walk like a penguin to avoid meeting Guy and his team face-to-face.