More than an embarrassment or inconvenience, falling in winter can lead to serious harm, particularly for people aged 65 and above. Falls are the leading cause of injury for senior citizens, and over 30,000 are killed every year in falls. The most common types of serious injuries are traumatic brain injuries and fractures.
Of course, falls can injure anyone, regardless of age. Falls account for one-third of all emergency room visits, according the the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
With that in mind, here are a couple of reminders on how to avoid falls, and what to do if you do find yourself falling.
- Wear the right shoes. A little traction on your soles can go a long way.
- Walk flat-footed. Avoid the temptation to tip-toe across ice - you want as much surface contact as possible.
- Take small steps. Smaller steps make it easier to keep your balance.
- Watch out for black ice. Particularly with this season's up-and-down temperatures, black ice may be a problem.
Stores and other public places may also have a legal obligation to help prevent slip-and-falls. However, this is a complex area of the law in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and liability generally depends on the facts of your case.
Some falls are unavoidable. If you do find yourself falling, these tips may help minimize your injury:
- Control the descent, if possible. Flailing can lead to landing hard. Try to land on a softer part of your body, not the hip or head.
- Tuck your chin. This is particularly important if your feet fly out from under you. Landing on your head can cause serious and devastating head injuries. Tucking your chin - may - allow you to land on your shoulders, and may reduce the impact to your head.
- Keep your arms agile. Fractures are likely if you hold your arms out straight to catch yourself. Don't be rigid, let your body slowly decelerate. If possible, roll instead of land.
Falls happen in a split-second, so these tips are, quite frankly, hard to do. Hopefully, however, you can remember one or two and minimize the danger if you do fall.
We hope you have a safe and enjoyable winter.