According to the National Safety Council, slips and falls are the single largest cause of emergency room visits, and most falls this time of year can be attributed to walking on icy surfaces.
Falls need to be taken seriously. They often lead to serious health problems, fractures and even death, especially in older adults.
10 tips to avoid falls this winter:
- Keep your sidewalks and steps free of snow and ice. It is a good idea to carry a small bag of ice melt or kitty litter in your purse or car.
- Concentrate on the path ahead. Take your time and proceed slowly.
- Wear appropriate footwear with good support. Wear shoes or boots with rough soles when going outside. Clean your shoes before going inside or change your shoes – caked snow and ice can cause a fall.
- Remove clutter in all the places you regularly walk.
- Clear all entry ways of snow and slush.
- Use handrails wherever they are provided. Install grab bars next to the toilet and in the tub or shower.
- Beware of changes in walking surfaces. Many falls are caused when someone doesn’t realize he/she is leaving a secure area for a slippery one.
- Improve lighting in and around your home.
- Use a cane, walking stick or walker to help you feel steadier when walking outside.
- Be careful around pets.
A few more tips to keep your body healthy and prepared:
Exercise that includes a combination of weightlifting and cardio can reduce the incidence of falls by making you stronger and more coordinated.
Review your medications.
Falls are often an indication of other underlying conditions such as gait or medication problems. Some medicines or certain combinations of medicines can interact adversely and cause drowsiness or lightheadedness.
Have your vision checked.
Your eyeglass prescription may need to be updated. Be sure to be checked for conditions like glaucoma or cataracts that can limit your vision.