‘Tis the season to be icy

Blog readers don’t need me to tell them the obvious: It’s icy and slippery outdoors, and if you aren’t careful, you could fall and break a bone or get a concussion.

Heartland Orthopedic Specialists of Alexandria has issued some timely advice on how to avoid the slips, slides and falls that frequently contribute to injuries at this time of year.

For starters, stay tuned to the weather forecast so you know what to expect and can prepare for it.

Slow down and take your time. Watch for icy spots on streets, sidewalks, steps and parking lots. If there are hand railings, use them.

Wear boots or shoes that provide traction and support your ankles.

If you need someone else to lend a steadying arm while you negotiate an icy sidewalk, ask for help.

Types of injuries that are most common from slipping or falling on the ice are broken bones, concussions, sprains and strains. The results are often painful and inconvenient. One of my siblings wore a cast for several weeks after falling on the ice and breaking a wrist some years ago. I know someone else who sustained a concussion after falling backward on the ice. Sometimes a fall can be life-threatening if the victim ends up with a severe head injury.

I did some research and came up with some additional tidbits of information. Here’s some advice from the University of Iowa about how to prevent and deal with back injuries caused by falls or near-falls on the ice. It reiterates the point about footwear and suggests adopting the winter shuffle method of walking: short steps and gently planting the whole foot with each step.

This news release from our northern neighbors in Canada offers some further refinements on the winter shuffle: Walk consciously and cautiously. Since your arms help provide balance, keep them out of your pockets and avoid carrying heavy loads that can interfere with your balance.

There might be no way to fall gracefully on ice, but falling the right way can help minimize the likelihood of injury. Two words: tuck and roll. Experts say it can help prevent your head, wrists and elbows from hitting the ground. Although most people’s temptation is to put out a hand to try to break their fall, this can result in a broken wrist or arm.

This video I found on You Tube gives you some idea of how easy it can be, even for the young and able-bodied, to slip and fall:

About one minute into the video, you can see a young woman fall flat on her back. Although she gets up fairly quickly, I wouldn’t be surprised if she ended up with some bruises – and it looks like she may also have hit her head on the frozen ground. Other unfortunate pedestrians land hard on their knees, tailbones and other parts of their anatomy.

It looks like it hurts. So be careful out there.

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