It's an incredible 67 degrees in New England today, so what better time to talk about fall prevention during the winter months?? The uncharacteristically warm weather may only last for a day or so and then we'll be right back into a frosty winter.
So- what are some of the ways you can improve safety outside your home during the cold, snowy, icy months? Here are a few tips:
1. Keep sidewalks clear and salt/ice melt on hand to spread after shoveling to avoid ice formation. Don’t be shy about asking for help from family, neighbor, or hiring someone if your steps/walkway/driveway is particularly treacherous.
2. Keep handrails clear. If you have a porch or steps, relocate or remove items (flower pots, decorations) you have out there during the warmer months. Make sure handrails are securely fastened in the event you need to brace yourself from a potential fall.
3. Give yourself plenty of time to leave the house if you must following a heavy snowfall or freezing rain. Avoid rushing and prioritize safety with mobility outside the home.
4. If you have a garage, keep your car parked in it during storms to avoid snow or ice buildup outside the driver’s side door. Otherwise, bring a scoop of salt or ice melt to put down beside the door you’ll be using.
5. Consider investing in some ice gripper style attachments for winter boots. There are various styles available, they fit over your own footwear to improve traction in icy conditions.
6. Wear properly fitting shoes when leaving the house. A pair of supportive hiking boots (which the ice grippers can be attached to) or similar footwear with substantial tread on the bottom.
7. If you need to be carrying items, like groceries, do not try to carry the entire load in one trip. Smaller, lighter loads are easier to balance. Take the essential items on the first trip in, that way if you are not comfortable making multiple trips at that time, you can come back later.
8. Following a storm, if you have to leave the house, try to wait until the roads have been plowed and- if you have someone plow your driveway, they’ve been over to plow. If the storm cleanup is over in the morning, the midday and afternoon sun will help melt ice and snow making it easier to shovel your sidewalk or steps.
9. Have all-season or winter tires put on your car before snow starts to fall. Have an ice scraper in the car to be able to clean it off. Consider investing in a roof broom to clean off the top of your car while safely standing next to the car.
10. Install pathway lighting along the sidewalk to improve visibility for your route from the car into the house.
11. Make sure all vents for heating and cooking are clear and shoveled out. If you need assistance reach out to family or neighbors to help.
Unfortunately, there is no single way to prevent falls, especially in changing terrain. If you have concerns about moving around in and outside your home let's talk about ways to improve safety!