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The winter season brings with it treacherous conditions including slippery surfaces. Common everyday activities such as walking to the mailbox take on a new level of danger when ice is present.

“Falling due to slipping on ice is a common cause of emergency room visits during the winter,” said emergency room medical provider Rochelle Herrada, APRN. “Falls can result in injuries including broken bones, sprains, strains, contusions, or more severe injuries such as traumatic brain injuries."

While injuries can be treated, the best course of action is to prevent falling thereby preventing fall-related injuries.

Here are some tips to help prevent falls due to slipping on ice:

  • Walk cautiously and slowly. Take your time and avoid rushing.
  • Adjust how you walk to increase your safety. This includes walking slowly with shorter steps to help maintain balance.
  • Wear shoes with good tread that allow for traction on slippery surfaces.
  • Keep walkways clear of snow and consider applying de-icing salt to walkways.
  • Talk to your doctor about your health and any risks that increase your risk of falling.
  • Consider keeping a cell phone with you so that if a fall occurs you can call for help.

Unfortunately, even with the best safety practices accidents, such as falls, do occur.

“It is important to have a plan on what to do if you experience a fall,” added Herrada.

If a fall occurs consider taking these steps:

  • Don’t attempt to get up right away. Take a moment to assess yourself for injuries. If you are injured and unable to get up safely consider calling 911 for help.
  • If you are not injured and decide to attempt to regain a standing position, take care to do so safely to avoid a second fall. Try rolling to one side, then getting to your hands and knees, then standing upright.
  • After a fall it is important to consider any factors that led to the fall. Consider if there is anything that can be learned from this fall that may help prevent a fall in the future.

If the fall has resulted in an injury, see a health care provider for evaluation either at a clinic or in the emergency department. If the fall has led to an emergency, call 911 for help.