Last week my family visited our neighbor on her 97th birthday – cupcakes with lighted candle in hand and singing as she answered the door!  We had a lovely visit around her kitchen table, and when we got up to leave, we saw snow had started coming down.  She confided in me that she is afraid to fall.  Well, who isn’t?  Winter weather makes us all wary.

No matter how well the snow and ice is removed from parking lots or sidewalks, we will still encounter some slippery surfaces when walking outdoors in the winter. It’s important for everyone to be constantly aware of these dangers and to learn to walk safely.

  • In cold temperatures, approach with caution and assume that all wet, dark areas of pavement are slippery and icy. Dew or water vapor can freeze on cold surfaces, forming an extra-thin, nearly invisible layer of ice that can look like a wet spot on the pavement.
  • Walk in designated walkways as much as possible. Taking shortcuts over snow piles and other frozen areas can be hazardous. Look ahead when you walk; a snow or ice-covered sidewalk or driveway, especially if on a hill, may require travel along its grassy edge for traction.
  • Point your feet out slightly like a penguin – spreading your feet out slightly while walking on ice increases your center of gravity.
  • Bend slightly and walk flat-footed with your center of gravity directly over the feet as much as possible.
  • Extend your arms out to your sides to maintain balance. Beware if you are carrying a heavy backpack or other load— your sense of balance will be off.
  • Keep your hands out of your pockets. Hands in your pockets while walking decreases your center of gravity and balance. You can help break your fall with your hands free if you do start to slip.
  • Watch where you are stepping and GO S-L-O-W-L-Y ! This will help your reaction time when you experience changes in traction.
  • When walking on steps, always use the hand railings and plant your feet firmly on each step.
  • Use special care when entering and exiting vehicles; use the vehicle for support.
  • Take short steps or shuffle for stability. It also helps to stop occasionally to break momentum.

Take a look at this interesting article. It explains how the Dutch are teaching, yes I wrote teaching, older adults how to fall!

Don’t forget –

– Wear appropriate shoes.

– Walk in designated walkways.

– Watch where you are walking.

– Walk slowly and don’t rush!