Winter weather is here and walking on snow and ice covered sidewalks cause a substantial number of falls for pedestrians. Wet or icy surfaces, uneven pavement, glare, and poor visibility all increase the risk for falls and injury. A minor fall may only result in bruised pride, however the potential is always there for serious injuries, such as broken bones or even fatal injuries. Remember to:
- Wear proper footwear. A boot with good rubber treads is recommended.
- Walk slowly and deliberately. Tap your foot on possible slippery areas to gauge the level of slickness. Proceed with caution.
- Walk flat footed, knees slightly bent, to keep your center of balance over your body.
- Watch out for black ice.
- Exercise caution when getting in and out of vehicles.
- If possible, avoid carrying items in your hands, or keeping your hands in your pockets in case you need to catch yourself if you lose your balance.
If you find yourself falling backwards, try to tuck your chin so you don’t hit your head, and try to relax your muscles. Tension in your body ensures that one hard surface (your body) will hit a second hard surface (the ground) with greater force than necessary, increasing a chance of injury.
Additional Fall Prevention Tips
- Maintain contact with all handrails. Keep your hands free to offer stability, and to catch yourself if needed. Avoid climbing stairs or ladders with objects in your hands.
- Keep walk and work surfaces clean and clutter free. Scan your walkway for existing and potential hazards.
- Wet surfaces should be protected by proper drainage or appropriate matting.
- Provide warning signs or high visibility paint to signify uneven surfaces and trip hazards.
- Wear shoes that provide good traction.
- Limit your load to what you can safely handle to allow an unobstructed view of your path. Use wheels to push or pull your load if possible.
Alert others when you see a slip, trip or fall hazard. If you cannot fix the hazard immediately, make a timely notification or Near Miss Report that could save a friend, co-worker, or family member from having a serious accident. Never walk by a hazard without doing something about it!