Helping residents stay safe and upright during the winter months can be very challenging, especially here in Minnesota.Â Slip and Fall risks escalate for seniors in winter, as sidewalks become coated with ice, melted snow turns floors slippery, and joints are stiffer and more painful.Â There are many precautions that Augustana takes to increase the safety of residents, visitors and employees in the winter months. But there are also preventative strategies that each of us can take to avoid falls and mitigate the consequences of an accident.
- Dress appropriately- Rubber or neoprene soles provide more traction than leather or plastic. And bundling up minimizes the tendency to hurry, which can lead to a stumble.
- Determine routes in advance- Try to stay on cleared and level paths when headed outdoors.
- Focus and slow down- Be aware of possible slippery patches, take smaller steps, and avoid carrying heavy or bulky packages.
- Recognize high-risk situations- Exercise particular caution when getting into and out of cars or buses, climbing outdoor steps and walking after dark.
- Use a specially adapted cane- If a walking cane is used, it should be fitted with a wide, nonslip tip during the winter months.
- Wipe shoes upon entry- Wet soles may cause an indoor accident.
- Maintain balance and muscle strength- Find exercises that help increase body awareness and balance. Some suggestions are Tai chi, low-impact strength training, and water aerobics.
Winter slip and fall accidents are serious but largely preventable. For more information on how to prevent falls, visit these websites: Avoiding Winter Falls, Don’t Let Winter Weather Bring You Down, and Preventing Falls During the Winter Months.