"Of the more than 1 million injuries in the U.S. each year caused by falls, the most common is the slip and fall," Martin Tirado, CEO, SIMA
As winter makes its mark across North America, we all feel both excited and stressed. Ice and snow remind us of the holidays and the natural cycles of Mother Nature, but when ice coats roads, sidewalks and power lines it creates a dangerous situation often resulting in downed power lines, car accidents and injuries from slip and falls.
"Of the more than 1 million injuries in the U.S. caused by falls the most common is the slip and fall," said Martin B. Tirado, CAE, CEO of the Snow & Ice Management Association. "Slipping and falling on ice accounts for a large number of winter-related injuries and may even change the quality of life for the injured person."
In addition to injuries, ice storms have residual effects such as loss of power, road closures, fallen trees and impassible sidewalks. Melting and freezing snow also can create (and recreate) ice-y conditions long after the initial snowstorm has ended.
SIMA, the North American nonprofit organization representing the snow removal professionals, has these tips on surviving a wintery ice storm.
- Wear proper footwear. Proper footwear should place the entire foot on the surface of the ground and have visible treads. Avoid a smooth sole and opt for a heavy-tread shoe with a flat bottom.
- Anticipate the ice. Be weary of thin sheets of ice that may appear as wet pavement (black ice). Often ice will appear in the morning, in shady spots or where the sun shines during the day and melted snow refreezes at night.
- Plan ahead. While walking on ice-y sidewalks or in parking lots, walk consciously. Instead of looking down, look up and see where your feet will move next to anticipate ice or an uneven surface. Occasionally scan from left to right to ensure you are not in the way of vehicles or other hazards. When stepping off a curb or getting into a car, be careful since shifting your weight may cause an imbalance and result in a fall.
- Avoid taking shortcuts. Shortcuts are a good idea if you are in a hurry, but may be a bad idea if there is ice on the ground. A shortcut, such as walking over a median, may be treacherous because it is likely to be located where snow and ice removal is not possible.
- Stay home and be safe. During an ice event, spend some quality time at home. Forget spring-cleaning now is a great time to tackle your basement, your office or a storage closet. Turn off your electronics--yes that includes your phone-- and play a board or card game with your family. Use this time to relax, don't add stress to your life unnecessarily.