Slippery Situations: Don't Let a Fall Get You Down
As Canadians, or anyone living in a region that gets even the occasional blast of winter weather, we've all unexpectedly slipped (and fallen) on ice. It's inevitable. If you're lucky, and don't actually fall, and all you're left with is a split-second moment of panic, followed by the realization that you're fine. If you're not lucky, your feet fly out from under you, and you hit the ground. Hard.
Hopefully, you've never experienced this, but if you have, I hope you didn't injure yourself. Bruises are one thing. Broken bones, or hitting your head on the ground, are far more serious.
Here are some tips on how to stay safe (and on your feet!) while venturing outside when the conditions are slick:
✓ Wear Proper Footwear >> Just like you put (or should put!) winter tires on your car, boots with good treads are like winter tires for us. Putting on your comfy, worn sneakers (you know the ones I'm talking about), or stylish flat-bottomed dress shoes that have ZERO grip, and heading outside after a freeze-thaw-freeze cycle isn't the best idea. Have a comfortable, warm pair of winter boots at the ready. Leave a pair of shoes at work for you to change into. Easy stuff.
✓ Do Like the Penguin Does >> No, not like Sidney Crosby. Yes, like the adorable aquatic, flightless, Antarctic bird. The picture in this post outlines the biomechanical disadvantage we have when trying to walk with our normal stride on slippery surfaces. It's a recipe for falling. Instead, take shorter steps, and keep your centre of gravity above your front leg. Keep your knees bent and try and stay loose. Most of us already know this from experience, and it's something we should always be thinking about when walking on ice.
✓ Take it Slow and Look Around >> Ice + speed + not aware of your surroundings = increased fall risk. Pretty simple, right? Always survey the ground as you walk in the winter. Always. If something looks like ice, it probably is. If something doesn't look like ice...well, it still might be ice, so better to take your time. If the sidewalk is too slick, try walking on the snow-covered grass on either side. Always remember to survey the scene before exiting your car in the parking lot. Too many times have I slipped getting out of the car because I failed to assess how icy the ground was beside my door.
✓ Shovel and Salt >> This is also a simple and easy solution for minimizing ice around your driveway and walkway at home. Keep salt on your front porch (or inside your front entrance) and dispense as necessary. It's not a pleasant thing to slip and fall on your own front porch after navigating safely through your day.
As Canadians, we're all winter warriors, and we know how to appropriately deal with the challenges of this season. Hopefully this post will serve as a reminder to get back into that mindset as the temperatures drop and the lake effect snow squalls start kicking in.