Avoiding a Tumble

Be Prepared for the Winter

Falls Prevention - Winter Family

Cold temperatures and snow are back this week in southern Ontario, and we know that plenty of snow and ice increase the chances of preventable falls.

In Ontario, over 50 per cent of Emergency Department visits are caused by falls.  And each winter Trillium Health Partners sees a spike in visits to our own Emergency Department—already among the busiest in Ontario—for serious injuries caused by falls.

Falls are also the leading cause of injuries for Ontarians over the age of 65.  So here are a couple of tips to help you or a loved one stay on your feet and enjoy our winter wonderland:

Boots Meant for Walking

Walking is among the best forms of exercise for all age groups, even during the winter.  The fresh, cold air is invigorating, and nature is beautiful adorned in snow and ice.  But it can also be treacherous.

Whether you’re just stepping out to check the mail, or taking a rigorous walk, we advise warm winter boots with durable soles.  Most importantly, ensure that your boots’ soles have good, rugged treads for extra grip on unploughed or unshoveled sidewalks, paths, and driveways.

Salt, Sand, and Railings

Most outdoor falls occur on one’s own property.  Whenever possible, remove freshly fallen snow as soon as you can, and then sprinkle walkways with road-salt or even sand.  Salt prevents ice from forming, and sand provides additional traction and grip for walking.

Driveways, sidewalks, and paths tend to get most of our attention, but don’t forget porches, verandas, and the stairs leading up to them.  A fall down even a short flight of three stairs can result in severe injuries.

Finally, always use your handrail when climbing and descending even the shortest flights of stairs.  Slips can happen at any time, so having a firm grip on a handrail will help ensure you don’t take a tumble.

Our community’s long-term health is important to us.  Enjoy your winter, but most importantly, be sure to enjoy it safely and cautiously.  If you do fall, and you’re alone, make sure you have a mobile phone to call for help.

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