The winter weather brings snow, winter activities, and of course, icy streets and sidewalks. While driving during the winter is often a cause for concern, simply walking down the street during winter months can be dangerous because streets and sidewalks can be especially slippery this time of year. Falls are the leading cause of brain injury in Massachusetts, according to statistics from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Approximately 20,000 people in Massachusetts suffer a permanent brain injury each year as a result of a fall.
While falls occur year-round, slippery driveways, stairs and sidewalks are often cause for concern. Consider our tips to prevent falls this season:
1. Wear well-fitting, comfortable boots with non-skid rubber soles. Some boots and shoes, while they may be fashion forward, are not the best type of shoes for walking during the winter months. Rather than wear a pair of shoes that don’t offer much traction, such as heels, flats or boots with slippery soles, invest in and wear boots that won’t skid when commuting to and from work or trecking outdoors. Bring an extra pair of shoes to change into after you get inside.
2. Use railings going up and down stairs to prevent slipping.
3. Make sure your driveway, walkways and stairs are shoveled, salted and sanded. Although many people shovel, sand and salt their driveways and walkways right after a storm, it is important to continue to salt and sand days and weeks after a storm as melting snow can freeze in the evenings and make streets and walkways slippery and dangerous.
4. Begin or continue a consistent exercise program to maintain strength and flexibility.
5. Avoid walking outdoors at night and if you must, make sure you’re in a well-lit area. Black ice is often easy to miss. Make sure to pay close attention to your surroundings to avoid slipping on icy streets, sidewalks and driveways.
For more information on falls and BIA-MA’s Falls Prevention program, go to our website.