Avoiding Falls and Fractures on Ice

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Snow and ice this time of year can make getting around outside difficult, even just between your home and a vehicle. We shovel our walks, but snow can melt during the day into cleared walkways and refreeze overnight into black ice, creating a dangerous situation.

Why falls and fractures are dangerous

Anyone can fall and injure themselves on ice, but older adults are more at risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over a quarter of Americans age 65 and older fall each year, and falls are the number one cause of injuries and death from injuries. A younger person may break their arm, get a cast on for several weeks to easily heal and be fine, while an older adult may break a hip and need a hip replacement and full-time nursing care. Additionally, head injuries are possible at all ages from any fall.

Ways to Prevent Falls

In Winter

Taking some everyday precautions can help you prevent falling in the first place. Dr. Timothy Yu, a family medicine physician, lists them out: “To help avoid falls during the winter months, remember to wear good footwear that provides traction, avoid carrying things that obstruct your vision or alters balance, use designated walkways and take your time! Don’t forget to stock ice melt and other supplies before it snows to ensure all your outdoor areas are properly treated to prevent slips and falls. It is important to stay active even during the winter months! Evidence shows regular mobility, balance and resistance exercises may help prevent falls, especially in older adults.”

Year-Round

The CDC lists 4 easy steps to help prevent falls year round:

  1. Talk to your doctor to evaluate your risk.
  2. Do strength and balance exercises to make you steadier on your feet.
  3. Have your eyes checked, to make sure your prescription is correct.
  4. Make your home safer, by removing obstacles, adding grab bars, fixing uneven surfaces, and so on.