Are you ready for winter?
Winter can be both a wonderful and tough time of the year. While, slip, trip and fall hazards are present year-around, the incidence and severity of slip and fall injuries increases during these winter months due to snow and ice. The wet and icy conditions are dangerous and hence people need to take the right precautions in advance to prevent falling. In fact, getting enrolled in slip and fall prevention programs in Brooklyn will help minimize such risks.
Elderly fall prevention is an important issue. Reports suggest that slips and falls are the main cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries and hospital admission among adults aged 65 years and older. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2017 statistics) estimates that more than one in four people suffer falls each year and about 2.8 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries. Weak muscles, poor vision, dementia, loss of balance, use of certain types of footwear (i.e. high heels, leather-soled shoes) and use of certain medications (like tranquilizers, sedatives or antidepressants) are some of the physical factors that result in falls. Weather-related elements like – melted snow or ice, or grit at the entrance of buildings, slippery surfaces (due to water, ice or snow from footwear), obstructed sidewalks and roadways, freeze / thaw cycles, snowy and ice-covered sidewalks or paths, and wet leaves and debris can also contribute to fall-related injuries. Making small, but visible modifications in home and working environments can help improve safety and independence of older adults to a great extent.
Follow these simple tips to prevent winter-related slips, trips and falls –
- Select appropriate footwear – There is no single shoe sole material that is perfect for use under all climatic conditions. Choose well-insulated, waterproof footwear with non-slip, rubber or neoprene composite soles that provides better traction on ice and snow. Ice grippers can also improve walking on ice and snow. Women should stick to flat-soled shoes and avoid high heels. Take short steps and walk at a slower pace to react quickly to changes in traction. Keep both hands free for balance rather than in your pockets.
- Install handrails and grab bars – Use sturdy handrails in stairways and hallways to grip if you happen to slip.
- Use non-slip mats – Floors in porches and walkways can be dangerous when wet. Place high quality, beveled edge track off mats in walking areas subject to water or snow accumulation. Beveled floor mats catch excess water and remove moisture from the soles of your shoes. Keep extra mats on hand in case they become saturated with water and need to be changed. Wipe your feet before entering a building or climbing steps. Cold boots or footwear with snow or ice caught on the soles can become quite slippery when you enter a warm building.
- Clear the walkways and stairs – Always keep the walkways and stairs clear of debris, water, ice and slippery materials. Keep them clean and dry to avoid ice buildup. Keep sand and salt handy and use regularly to keep walkways clear of ice, preferably near the front door.
- Light up your stairs and sidewalks – Keep your lighting system bright as this can help prevent tripping hazards. Poor lighting makes it difficult for people to see patches of snow and ice. Install bright light bulbs in narrow hallways, staircases, parking lots, sidewalks, outdoor areas and check whether they are working properly.
- Watch out for black ice – Check out for black ice – one of the top causes of winter related slips and falls. Black ice is a thin, nearly invisible coating of ice that occurs when temperatures rise above freezing and quickly drop below freezing.
- Lighten your load – Carry fewer bags and packages during slippery days as excess baggage can affect your balance and make it tougher to regain your balance once you lose it.
- Install a ramp – A covered, no-step entry with a weather-resistant ramp is a useful option for homes.
- Be careful when entering/exiting vehicles – In some cases, many slips and falls occur during entry or exit from vehicles. Be extra careful and hold on to the vehicle for extra support. In addition, observe caution when walking or driving around snow removal equipment as they often come to sudden stops and the operator may have limited visibility.
Enrolling in slip and fall prevention programs is a good decision for older adults to prevent the occurrence of winter-related injuries. Reliable multi-specialty pain management centers in Brooklyn, NYC offer customized fall risk assessment and conditioning programs that assess your risk of falling, modify the risk factors, and improve mobility, physical strength, and balance.
Avoid slip and fall injuries this winter season by following a few sensible steps!