Safer Winter

WE HAVE had only a slight taste of winter weather in the Ohio Valley. Rest assured Old Man Winter will rear his ugly head all too often before springtime arrives.

To make winter time and the pratfalls its yields safer, Ohio is currently observing Winter Safety Awareness Week. It is designed with prevention of problems in mind.

One of the major concerns in wintry weather is falling, particularly. That risk escalates greatly with the elderly, calling for enhanced precautions.

Icy conditions obviously make it harder to stay on your feet, and the cold may cause one to limit his or her activity which can lead to loss of strength and balance.

To avert tragic tumbles, the state has launched a new prevention initiative called STEADY U Ohio. It provides many helpful and safety winter-time tips. They include:

  • Bundle up to stay warm but make sure you can see in all directions and move easily and freely;
  • Wear sturdy shoes or boots with treads, even if you’re just going out to get the newspaper;
  • Carry a small bag of salt, sand or kitty litter in your pocket or purse to sprinkle in front of you for traction on icy paths;
  • Avoid walking on surfaces that may be icy if you can. If you can’t, slow down, shorten your stride, walk with feet pointed out slightly and knees gently bent to improve traction and balance;
  • Snow can hide curbs and uneven surfaces. If you can’t see where your foot will land find another way;
  • Replace worn rubber tips on canes, walkers and crutches. Ask a mobility equipment dealer about winter canes or cleats you can add to existing equipment;
  • Dry off shoes, canes crutches and walkers as soon as you get indoors. Wet shoes on dry surfaces are just as dangerous as dry shoes on wet surfaces;
  • If you are going out alone, carry a cell phone, know who you will call if you fall, and make sure that person knows what to do if you call;
  • Ask your doctor or physical therapist about indoor exercises that can help you maintain strength and balance when you can’t venture out;
  • Wear sunglasses to reduce glare from the sun and snow and ensure that you can see where you are walking;
  • When in doubt, don’t risk it. Ask for help if you don’t feel safe doing something.

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No plan is fool proof. But if you follow the prescribed safety steps offered by STEADY U Ohio, every winter-time step may be a safer one.