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How to Stay on Your Feet During Slippery Winter Conditions

Any surfaces that look wet and dark are probably icy, safety experts say
(*this news item will not be available after 05/12/2017)
By Mary Elizabeth Dallas
Saturday, February 11, 2017
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SATURDAY, Feb. 11, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Before you head outside to shovel the snow off your sidewalk this weekend, heed some safety advice so you don't slip on the ice and land in the ER.

It's important to pay attention and take extra precautions while getting around, University of Illinois safety experts say. Even if snow has been cleared from sidewalks, parking lots and other public areas, there could still be patches of ice.

There are some steps you can take to prevent slips or avoid serious falls during winter. The university experts recommend the following:

  • Choose the right shoes. Avoid wearing boots or shoes with smooth leather or plastic soles and heels. Footwear made of non-slip rubber or neoprene with grooved soles provide some traction on snow and ice, and will reduce the risk of falling.
  • See and be seen. It's important to stay warm on winter days, but don't let hats and scarves prevent you from hearing and seeing what's around you. Choose brightly colored or reflective outerwear to help ensure you are visible to drivers. It's also important to wear sunglasses to reduce glare and avoid potential hazards. If you do slip, a heavy or bulky coat will help break your fall.
  • Proceed with caution. It's a good idea to assume that any surfaces that look dark and wet are icy. Dew and water vapor tends to freeze on hard surfaces, creating a thin and invisible layer of ice. To avoid these slick areas, stay in designated walkways whenever possible. It's not a good idea to opt for shortcuts through areas that haven't been cleared of snow or ice. If necessary, walk on grassy edges along icy hills or sidewalks to avoid falling.
  • Stay balanced. Bending slightly and walking flat-footed with your arms out to your sides can help you avoid falling. Be mindful of heavy bags that could cause you to lose your balance. Try to lighten your load and keep your arms free. It's also a good idea to keep your hands out of your pockets so you can break your fall if you slip.
  • Take your time. Walk slowly and with shorter steps in slippery conditions. This will give you more time to react and prevent a fall-related injury. Use hand railings and be extra careful getting in and out of cars or other vehicles.

SOURCE: University of Illinois, news release

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