How to Avoid Painful Slips And Falls This Winter

Before you know it, Old Man Winter will be blowing snow and ice across Illinois. While it can be pretty for a day, it makes the roads and sidewalks treacherous, and not only for cars: Most people have had the experience of sliding on ice while walking across a parking lot, sidewalk or driveway. Also, tracked-in water or snow can lead to slippery entrances in both homes and commercial buildings. Here are some ways to avoid painful falls this winter, as well as information on what to do if you do find yourself injured due to slippery winter weather.

Wear Appropriate Winter Gear

'Tis the season for rubber-soled shoes and boots with grips. Wearing heels or slippery flats in the snow exposes you not only to frostbite and chilly feet, but also to the increased possibility of a slip or fall.

Protecting yourself from a fall goes beyond footwear, however. Wearing gloves can protect your hands from abrasions should you take a spill, since you will tend to instinctively put your hands out to break your fall.

Stay on the Path

Sticking to well-traveled sidewalks is a better plan than trying to cut across parking lots. Most businesses and towns sand or salt their sidewalks and walkways in an effort to protect patrons and citizens. If you can't park close to an entryway to a business or building, try parking along the edge of the parking lot if there is a sidewalk, and follow that to the door, even if it is the longer way.

Walk Like a Toddler

When crossing streets, navigating wet or icy parking lots or going up or down stairs in icy weather, take a cue from your two-year-old. Take small steps and be ready to brace yourself with your hands by putting them out in front of you or to the side. You might look a bit silly, but you'll also reduce your risk of taking a painful spill that will hurt more than your pride!

Don't Let Your Guard Down

Once you get indoors, the danger is not eliminated. Throw rugs put down to help catch ice and snow can be wrinkled, leading to falls. Also, as mats get wet, chunks of snow and ice get tracked onto hard floors, making them slippery once the snow melts. Wipe your feet well upon entering a house or building, and continue to be careful until you're several paces away from the door.

If You Should Fall

There are a few things you should do if, despite your best efforts, you take a tumble. First, if you possibly can, try to fall safely. Once you make it to the ground, go through this list of steps.

  • Assess your environment. If you have fallen in the road, for example, you need to get up and out of the way immediately, if possible, to avoid getting hit by a car. If, however, you are on a sidewalk or inside a building, don't jump up, as you might further injure yourself.
  • Get up slowly if you can. While you probably feel embarrassed about having fallen, scrambling to your feet on a slippery surface can lead you to fall again. Carefully gain your bearings and rise slowly, making sure to get a good foothold. If possible, put your feet on a dry area before standing.
  • Call for help if you think you are seriously injured. While you can get up and walk to safety if you injure a hand or wrist, this might not be the case if you think you have hurt your knee or, worse, your neck or back. If you feel pain in your back or neck, stay put if safety allows until you can get someone to help you. If it was a severe fall, call paramedics or ask someone else to do so before you move.
  • Contact a personal injury attorney. If you need medical attention, you may also need legal representation. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you get your medical bills paid, can assist if you need to miss work due to your injury, and may even be able to have you compensated for pain and suffering.

With luck and by taking precautions, you may be able to avoid slipping and falling this winter. If you do run into a problem, however, be sure to take advantage of the medical and legal options available to you.