Even with the holiday rush behind us and social distancing keeping our outings to a minimum, slips, trips, and falls are an all-too-common winter occurrence. Whether from icy sidewalks or rain slippery stairs, everyday tasks can become painful bumps, bruises, or broken bones. Until things dry out in warmer weather, be on the lookout for common fall hazards. And if you or someone you love isn’t so lucky, let Dr. Chani Henderson of Family & Sports Chiropractic Clinic help you back on the road to recovery.
The National Floor Safety Institute is an “organization whose mission is: ‘to aid in the prevention of slips, trips, and falls through education, research and standards development.’” Their records show that “Falls account for over 8 million hospital emergency room visits, representing the leading cause of visits.”
Falls which happen on the job “represent the primary cause of lost days from work” and “are the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims and are the leading cause of occupational injury for people aged 55 years and older.”
For many of us, a fall results in nothing more serious than aches or a fracture. But for the elderly, falls are significantly more dangerous. In combination with balance issues and reduced bone density, they can lead to ongoing medical issues and pain.
Since we can’t control the weather, it’s inevitable that we’ll run out of milk, dog food, or toilet paper just as a storm’s headed our way. If you must brave the outside world—or are clumsy from quarantine cabin fever—here are a few ways to avoid slips, trips, and falls this winter.
Avoid Slips, Trips, and Falls Outside
Sorry fashionistas, but this one’s important. If you have to go outside, wear boots or shoes with grippy, slip-fighting soles. Avoid carrying lots of things in your hands so that if you DO fall, you’re able to catch yourself. Wrangling a mask, keys, purse, gloves, reusable shopping bags, and all the trappings of a trip to the store can distract you from ice or puddles.
Also take care on that first step in or out of the house or store. Going from warm and dry to slushy and soggy (or vice versa) is a common fall hazard. Other problem spots might be a little more obvious but are just as often overlooked. Be careful around curbs, stairs, and parking lot bumpers.
And most importantly, go slow and cautiously. Hold on to stair railings and take your time. You might feel silly, but it’ll save a sore backside or broken bone.
Stay Safe From Falls Indoors As Well
With 2020 spent stuck home in our stocking feet, we’ve probably tripped and stumbled over just about everything we own at this point. But when those socks meet puddles from snowy shoes or damp pets, accidents can happen.
To avoid indoor falls, WebMD suggests some easy tips. Number one on the list: clear the clutter. “Phone cords, electric wires, pet bowls, and other things can cause trouble. Move it out of the way, or think about getting rid of it.”
Their next suggestion is especially important during those long gray Pacific Northwest days. They advise using—or adding—additional light when you’re up and about. Consider motion-activated nightlights for those midnight trips to the fridge or lighted switches so you can find overhead lights as needed. If you live in an area where the power goes out when it’s stormy, make sure there are plenty of flashlights, batteries, and candles handy. There are even some rechargeable flashlights which automatically come on when the power fails.
In the bathroom, use plenty of non-skid mats or stickers in the shower or tub and make sure guard rails are strong and well-installed. And in the kitchen, clean up spills and drips quickly so you don’t forget and end up sliding unexpectedly.
Slips, trips, and falls are the heart and soul of slapstick comedy but much less fun when YOU’RE the one involved. Life seldom drops a bright yellow banana peel in our path, but ice, water, and obstacles are everywhere. This winter and spring, go slowly and take your time. It could prevent a costly trip to the emergency room or having to wrangle crutches in the rain.
And if you do fall, book a consultation with Dr. Henderson online or by calling 360-254-0400. She can help with recovery and ways to improve balance and mobility in the future. Whatever your conditions or concerns, Dr. Henderson’s experience and know-how will have you back on your feet in no time.