Dr. Sharman’s Musings

winter safety

7 Smart Ways to Stay Safe this Winter

Did you make it through “Snowzilla” without any mishaps? We sure hope so! Welcome to winter. It sure looks like the snow and ice are here to stay. So let’s take a moment to look at smart ways to prevent injury this winter. Here are seven winter safety tips to avoid slipping on icy pavement and what to do if you fall:

1. Be mindful.

Paying attention and being mindful helps in all things in life but especially when trying to navigate snowy or icy ground on foot. Avoid looking at your phone, texting, rushing or wearing ear phones that may prevent you from hearing oncoming vehicles. Look around. And always assume that wet, dark areas are slippery and potentially ice.

2. Wear the right shoes.

Make sure to wear shoes that have grip on the soles or have rubber bottoms. If you’re going to wear dress shoes, just throw them in your bag and put them on when you get to where you’re going.

winter safety3. Walk cautiously.

Try to put your feet where there is a rough, gritty surface if available. Put your weight slightly forward so that you are less likely to slip backwards. If you’re walking over something that looks as if it could be wet or icy, “walk like a penguin.” Use smaller shuffling steps with your toes pointed slightly outward. Penguins are certainly the experts when it comes to walking on ice!

4. Use your hands.

Keep your hands free so that if you start to slip and something is available to grab onto, you can. That means you’ll need to keep your hands out of your pockets. Walk near the edge of a path or road so you can brace yourself if there is a wall, railing or other object to grab.

5. Know how to fall.

If you fall backwards, try to tuck your chin toward your chest. You don’t want to hit your head on the pavement and have a head injury! In general, you should tuck your body inward and try to avoid letting your head go toward the ground. If you can, bring your knees toward your chest as well. If you fall forward, try to roll toward your side. When you fall to the side, try to move your head toward the opposite shoulder keeping it further from the ground. And try to relax your body as you fall.

6. Use caution getting in and out of your car.

When entering and exiting your vehicle, take a moment to survey the ground you will be stepping onto or off of. Use your vehicle to hold on. I will never forget a patient I had many years ago who stepped out of her vehicle, slipped backward on ice and hit the back of her head on the baseboard of her car. Unfortunately, the fall resulted in a very serious head injury.

7. Watch surfaces around your garage.

Be very careful coming in and out of your garage. If your garage is like most, it has a smooth cement floor that is easy to slip on. Walk slowly when coming in and out from shoveling snow or exiting your vehicle especially if you are not wearing rubber soled shoes. And try to avoid tracking water, snow and ice into your garage. Also, avoid making puddles as you return snow shovels or snow blowers to their place in the garage.

We wish you a safe, warm and cozy time until spring! And please remember these winter safety tips.

Dr. Sharman

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