Falls account for over 8 million hospital emergency room visits each year, representing the leading cause of visits. And as we age, falls become more dangerous to our health. Here are some tips for keeping your balance and on your feet when it gets slippery out there.
- Take small careful steps instead of large ones. When getting out of a vehicle, step, don’t jump. When possible, use handrails, handles – anything that will help keep your balance.
- Don’t carry large loads while walking on snow or ice. If you are carrying a load on an icy walk and feel yourself falling, toss your load to break the fall with your arms.
- While walking, retain stability by keeping your hands out of pockets.
The government of Alberta Canada’s website contained a valuable list of additional tips:
- Find a path around snow or ice when you can.
- Learn how to Walk Like a Penguin (video)—walk slowly, take small steps, and point your toes out slightly to be more stable on icy paths.
- Keep your head up and don’t lean forward.
- Keep your hands out of your pockets to help keep your balance.
- If you use a cane, you can buy an ice pick for the cane.
If you have fallen, wait a moment and do a “self-assessment” rather than quickly getting up. Most bumps and bruises do not require medical attention. However, if pain from a fall persists beyond a few hours or you are unable to bear weight or move an upper extremity without pain, be sure to get evaluated by a physician. If the fall should cause a broken bone with skin disruption, get emergency care immediately. Most other sprains, strains or fractures can be safely treated by your primary care physician or at a certified urgent care. Lakes Urgent Care, in West Bloomfield and Livonia is a certified urgent care and can complete digital x-rays and initiate fracture care and casting, avoiding a visit to the emergency department.