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Preventing Slips Falls During Winter


By Kelli Grant
Published: January 8, 2010, 6:09 PM

This winter, try to not let the weather bring you down, literally. Thanks to Mother Nature, emergency rooms are seeing a rash of slips and falls. And the aftermath can sometimes be life threatening.

The extreme temperatures have many of us staying inside. For those who do brave the elements, getting from point A to B is likely at a pretty fast pace. And if you don't watch your step, you could be increasing your chance of serious injury.

"The ones that we really worry about, especially in elderly or intoxicated patients, are when they fall and hit their head or do some more potentially serious damage," Sanford Trauma 5 Physician Dr. Chris Carlisle said.

A break to a wrist, arm or leg can be fixed but a head injury can be life threatening.

"There's no room in your head for expansion, so when you fall and you hit your head and you break a blood vessel open and it bleeds in there, it compresses your brain and it's very, very serious indeed," Carlisle said.
Too much alcohol and a slippery sidewalk don't mix.

"If I'm sober and it's icy outside, I go out and I look very carefully where I'm walking and I try to avoid the glazed over spots. And if you're drunk, you don't do that. You don't have any judgment and it doesn't hurt any less when you fall and it's no less dangerous," Carlisle said.

Some tips to prevent a disastrous spill include dressing warmly and if you're cold, you're likely in a hurry which can affect your balance. Take short steps because this will help keep your center of balance. Be extremely careful getting in and out of your vehicle. If possible, swing your legs around and place both feet on the pavement before you attempt to stand. Don't take shortcuts; always use sidewalks and the cleared paths in parking lots.

And finally wear boots or shoes with good traction. Without them, it's an invitation for a slippery and dangerous situation.

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