Jan 7, 2014

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Eight Tips to Prevent Slipping on Ice

tips to prevent slipping on iceWalking on ice can be a difficult experience, even without the use of a cane or mobility device.  If you are a disabled or elderly person who requires the use of a cane, then the risk of falling on an icy surface can and does increase dramatically.  Here we will discuss some tips to prevent slipping on ice or a snowy surface.


Tips to prevent slipping on Ice

  1. One of the first steps to taking extra precaution with icy conditions is to remove any snow or ice from walking areas.  If you are an elderly or disabled individual, it is advised that you contact a professional, or family member, who is capable of doing this for you.  Additionally, put out sand or salt on areas where you will be walking to help prevent slips or falls.
  2. Wear appropriate footwear.  This makes a lot of difference when you are walking out on the icy surface.  Avoid wearing slick bottomed shoes, and instead try to wear a good winter boot, or slip-resistant shoe.  If you are out shopping for a good pair of winter boots, then consider the following features:
    1. Waterproof
    2. Thick, non-slip sole
    3. Wide heel
    4. Lightweight
    5. Well Insulated
  3. Use your cane properly to help with balancing, but avoid putting all of your weight into the cane.  Make sure that your cane is fitted for your height – turn it upside down, and if the end is at your wrist level, then the cane is fitted properly.
  4. Attach an ice pick to the end of your cane to help chisel out hard patches of ice.  These can be slippery, however, on hard surfaces so be very careful.  Most ice picks can be found at your local drug stores.
  5. Wear protective clothing when you walk outside in icy conditions.  For example, wear a hip protector, which can consist of a lightweight belt with shields that guard your hip.  If you were to slip or fall, any protective garments that you happen to be wearing will aid in reducing your chances of broken bones, bruises or any additional pain.  Additionally, the protective garments will give you confidence as you walk outside.
  6. Take your time while walking on icy surfaces.  Slow down and be very mindful of each step that you take.  Keep your body loose and spread your feet to provide yourself with adequate support.  The idea is to remain as stable as possible.
  7. Do not lock your knees while walking on ice.  Be sure to keep them bent a little bit.  This concept will help to keep your center of gravity lower to the ground, further stabilizing your entire body.
  8. Walk with your cane on the opposite side of your weak leg.  Be firm in positioning the cane and do what is only comfortable for you in terms of pace and distance.  Bear all of your weight on your “good side” and step very mindfully, as mentioned above.

As we approach the wintery and cooler weather, it is advisable to use precaution when walking outdoors on slippery and icy surfaces.  Taking your time and supporting your body properly will help to keep you upright and reduce your chance of falling.  Do you have any additional tips to share regarding walking on icy surfaces?  Share with us below in the comment field.

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  • Escobar

    Excellent advice! I use a cane and I’m looking into buying an aPallo cane. I had never thought of attaching an ice pick though. I don’t even know if the old cane I have now is equipped for an ice pick attachment. I assume the Palo cane would. Are these easy on/off? My wife would not appreciate the damage my cane would do to our floors if I forgot to take it off.

  • Michael H

    To be realistic, in wintery conditions you don’t just need to be mindful of how you walk, you need to know how to fall too. Even when you’re being careful it can still happen. I wear a wrist brace, but even if your wrists are healthy as can be, I don’t recommend trying to brace your fall with your hands/wrists. I find it is safest to land forearms first if you’re falling forward and butt first if you’re falling backwards. Any thoughts?

  • Fallon

    Another thing to always remember- do not rely purely on salt to remove the danger of slipping. Spreading salt around on a snowy or icy surface will melt the ice, but you still need to remove what has been melted or it will freeze and then you’ll be in as bad of a situation, if not worse. Sand is a little more effective and keeping some grounding but it can still be iced over.