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Man hurting after winter slip and fall

Avoiding Winter Slips, Trips & Falls

By Kristy Warren

Winter weather can spell painful falls. Slushy sidewalks and ice patches are routine culprits in taking a tumble, increasing your risk for injuries like sprained ankles, pulled muscles, bruising, and even broken bones.

Follow these proactive tips to reduce your risk of a fall:

  • If you don’t need to go out in poor weather, skip the trip.

  • If you must go out, stick to well-cleared paths sprinkled with rock salt or ice melt.
Ice Cleats on Snow Boots
  • Wear the right gear. Select an outdoor shoe with sturdy, rubber soles and a strong, no-slip tread. If you’ll be facing icy surfaces, add slip-on ice cleats to improve your traction. If heading to work, simply stash your dress shoes in your bag to change into.

  • Take your time. By slowing down, you’re less likely stumble and slip.
  • Adopt the penguin walk. Why a penguin? They are the masters of walking on ice! By taking shorter, smaller steps and widening your stance, you can reduce your risk of a fall.

  • Stay alert for changing weather conditions. A subtle temperature shift can turn a slick surface into hard-to-spot black ice or melt snow into slippery slush.
  • Stay handsfree. Leave your hands free to hold railings, steady your balance, catch yourself should you start to slip, or break your fall. Use a backpack, purse strap, or shoulder bag to carry your belongings to keep your hands free.

  • Once you’ve arrived at your destination, remove your shoes and place them in a designated place out of the way to dry. 
Walking while holding railing in the snow
  • Stay vigilant even once you're indoors. Any buildup of snow or slush on your shoes will melt indoors, creating the potential for a sock-drenching puddle or a slick surface that could lead to a slip and fall. Utilize a shoe rack or tray if possible to minimize tripping or slipping hazards.  

  • If your home has smooth, hard floors like wood, linoleum or tile, wear non-skid socks or slippers with good tread instead of stocking feet to further reduce the risk for indoor slips and falls.

For more winter safety tips, stay tuned to laurelhc.org’s health and wellness news!