Avoiding Slips and Falls in Winter Weather

The winter months are usually accompanied by a rash of slips and falls. Nearly two-thirds of these mishaps occur on snow, ice or wet surfaces near entrances or on parking lots. Here are some tips to help you prevent falls:

  • Wear shoes that provide good traction

  • Dress warmly; being cold may cause you to hurry or tense your muscles -- both of which can affect your balance

  • Give yourself plenty of time; take short steps with your feet pointed slightly outward; this will help keep your center of balance under you and provide a stable base for support

  • Be extremely careful getting out of your vehicle; if possible, swing your legs around and place both feet on the pavement before you attempt to stand; steady yourself on the door frame until you have gained your balance; avoid reaching beyond your center of balance to take hold of the door, because this may cause a fall

  • Don't take shortcuts; always use sidewalks and the cleared paths in parking lots; never walk between parked cars; be especially careful when stepping to different levels -- down or up steps or from curbs (don't step on curbs); and remember, grassy slopes can be as dangerous as snowy steps

  • Pay attention to the walking surface; it may become wetter or slicker ahead of you; look down, however, only with your eyes; if you bow your head, it could propel you forward

  • When walking after sunset or in shadowed areas, be alert for black ice -- particularly in the days following a storm; once parking lots, sidewalks and steps have been cleared, a thin layer of water remains and refreezes when the temperature drops

  • Carry only those items necessary; carrying weighted or bulky packages is also risky