Diana considers herself very lucky to be alive. On a snowy December evening, Diana, who was “dressed to the nines”, was leaving a holiday party when her high heeled boot hit a snowy patch of ice. Diana slipped, fell backwards, and hit her head on the pavement, resulting in a slight concussion. At the hospital, the E.R. doctor said her slip and fall could have resulted in permanent damage or even a fatal injury if she would have hit her head harder or at a different angle, but her thick faux fur “Dr. Zhivago” style hat protected her head; her boots, however, were a poor choice for winter wear. When Diana started to defend her choice of footwear, her doctor interrupted by saying, “ Your safety often relies on what you wear. Sometimes functionality and safety trumps fashion.” Diana agreed quietly, as she should have taken her roommate’s advice to wear her heavily treaded winter boots; had Diana been more practical, she could have avoided her fall all together.
Dressing to Impress (and for Safety) this Winter
In many states, where the winter months get colder and produce snow, it’s difficult to stay fashionable when multiple layers of clothing are required. Winter may be the season when you ditch your vanity and adopt a sense of practicality. Sidewalks, streets, and other walking spaces (such as parking lots) can become almost impossible to navigate even after they are maintained with a shovel or snow salt. Winter walking is difficult, unpredictable, and potentially dangerous. One minute you may be strolling at a relatively quick pace and the next minute, your foot hit a patch of ice and you are looking up at the sky, with no major injury if you are lucky. Many winter slip and fall incidents are related to footwear, so it’s time to pack up those slick soled loafers or towering stilettos and grab a pair of boots that will really help you keep two feet firmly planted to the ground. Winter boots come in a large selection and believe it or not, are rather fashionable. A good winter boot (whether you insist on “bling” or “fur”) should have a good tread, should be well insulated, and are relatively waterproof. What’s the point of trying to walk safely in a winter boot if you can’t feel your feet because they got too cold or wet? If you can’t find a boot that will work for you, try investing in a pair of Stabil-Icers or YakTrax, which slip over your shoes and improve traction almost instantly.
Winter Slips and Fall are Inevitable
As careful as we all try to be when walking in snow and on icy surfaces, a slip or fall on snow or ice is inevitable. Here are some tips to walk safely, even if you may slip and fall:
– First of all, obviously, you’ll try to avoid walking on snow and ice, but if you can’t avoid it, you’ll want to take certain precautions.
– Take short steps or shuffle to stay stable. Yes, you may look like a dork, but if you look around you, everyone else is too.
– Bent slightly, walk flat-footed, keeping your center of gravity directly over the feet as much as possible, keep yourself relaxed as much as possible. A stiff, tense shuffle can result in some painful injuries if you do fall.
– If you fall (remember, you might), don’t use your arms to protect your fall. Try to avoid falling forward and try to protect your head from hitting the pavement.
– If you are carrying shopping bags or other items, toss the items to the side and save yourself. That said, make sure you are never overloading yourself or grabbing more than you can handle, especially when walking on slick surfaces.
– Finally, when entering buildings, make sure to stomp off excess water or snow. Continue to walk carefully, particularly near the entrance.
Make this Season a “Slip and Fall Free” Time of Year
Even if you take as many precautions as you can, you might still have a slip and fall on an icy surface. Your Winter Checklist should be as followed: Warm Winter Clothing? (check), The feeling of generosity and gratitude? (check), Being the Life of the Holiday Parties? (check), Walking in a Winter Wonderland while wearing heavily treaded boots? (check).
Don’t become a Slip and Fall statistic. Enjoy Winter; it’s a season to remember.