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Safety Tips for Maneuvering on Icy Surfaces

The winter weather is here! With it comes cold/freezing temperatures, snow, sleet, freezing rain, and lots of ice. Icy surfaces pose a major safety concern, especially for those trying to keep a focus on health, wellness, and physical activity in the winter months. The winter months can also bring with them the dreaded “winter blues”, but we know that physical activity and exercise can help to decrease these feelings, or fight them off entirely. Do not let the icy roads, sidewalks, and driveways deter you from getting outside, going for walks, or playing with friends and family outdoors. Just keep in mind some safety tips to avoid slipping or falling on the ice.

It is important to walk with a wide base of support when trying to avoid slipping or falling on the ice. A wide base of support and lowering your centre of gravity are essential components to having a strong, sturdy stance and for keeping your balance. It is quite common for individuals to shuffle their feet while trying to get from one side of the ice to the other. This is actually counterproductive and increases your risk of falling as your base of support is very narrow and you have less opportunity to support yourself if you do accidentally have a slip. Be sure to walk slowly and carefully, with small steps, putting your weight forward onto your front foot. Give yourself extra time to get to your destination and if possible, find a path that avoids the ice altogether, even if this means it will take longer to get to your destination. Keep your head up and look forward, not down at your feet or the ice, and be sure to have your hands out of your pockets and at your side with your arms out to increase balance and your base of support. Wear proper footwear with good support and traction on them, and if you are using a cane, you can purchase one with an ice pick for additional support. When available, be sure to use the handrails or railings when using the stairs or entering/exiting buildings. If possible, it is a great idea to keep a small container of sand/grit in your car that you can sprinkle on ice in an emergency as well.

Slips and falls are a major reason why there are many hospitalizations in the winter months due to hip and wrist fractures, and more. These fractures can become serious and costly, and most are preventable. Exercise caution at all times during the winter months, but be sure to enjoy the outdoors and the winter activities that come along with the snow and ice while you can! With proper education and safety, there is so much fun to be had in the Winter!

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