Step Carefully: Tips for Winter Safety
Little kids delight in sliding on the snow and ice patches and usually giggle when they topple over. But the outcome for older adults is usually not a smile when they go sliding on the ice.
Michelle Bresnahan, director of Rehabilitation Services at Elim Rehab & Care Center in Fargo, offered several suggestions for staying safe in the winter snow and ice:
Evaluate the necessity. “Even if it’s your regular day for going grocery shopping,” Bresnahan said, “you might want to delay it a day or two if there’s an ice storm. Is the carton of milk really worth slipping on the ice and spending weeks recovering from a nasty fall?”
Instead of risking a fall, consider having the store deliver your groceries if you’re enduring a harsh week of weather. There’s a small surcharge, but you’ll have the groceries you want delivered to your door, without the risk.
Watch where you’re walking. “It sounds so simple, but it’s key to staying safe,” she noted. “Take smaller steps, plan your route, and watch carefully for sneaky ice patches.”
Take some easy precautions: make sure you have the right walking shoes with good tread and low heels. And, if you or a loved one usually uses a cane, snap on a three-prong metal support to the base of the cane. It will help grip in the snow and give added traction.
Keep exercising. “It’s sometimes easier to ‘sit’ in the winter. But you want to make sure to keep exercising year round since it keeps muscles and bones at optimum strength,” Bresnahan said. “Stretching exercises build flexibility that will help a person react more quickly to a situation.”
Keep yourself moving during the winter months by doing regular exercise like walking-on a treadmill, at the mall, or in a gym-to help maintain overall health. Or turn on the television and stretch along with one of the exercise programs, doing what is comfortable. If you have friends living in the same building or neighborhood, get together regularly and have a social exercise time.
Tell someone about your plans! “Make sure someone knows where you’re going and when you’re leaving and returning,” Bresnahan notes. “Sometimes a person will leave a friend’s house and get home safely, but slip while going in the house in the dark. If someone expects a call saying you’re home safe, they’ll come looking for you when they don’t get the call.”
Some simple safety tips can be lifesavers-literally! Consider these:
- Work out a buddy system with friends or family. For persons living alone, they can ask a neighbor or friend to help-often others are as eager to have a ‘buddy’ as you are!
- Carry a cell phone. There are many plans out there that allow you to pay only for the calls you make. But having the phone with you-and charged-can serve as a lifeline.
- Don’t forget to keep a well-stocked emergency kit in the car. A few simple items can make a real difference when dealing with car troubles in the winter.
- Keep pathways clear of ice and snow. “So many people slip just going out to their mailbox or driveway,” Bresnahan noted. “It’s too easy to just run out to the mailbox in your slippers, and forget about the ice-until you fall.”
- To avoid a driveway tumble, be sure to put down the sand and salt on your driveways or path to the mailbox to melt the snow and ice, then scrape a clear path.
Four seasons can be enjoyable. With some planning and preparation, you too can laugh at the snow and ice!
For more information about rehabilitation services for physical, occupational or speech therapy, please call Elim Care at (952)259-4500.