Be prepared for slippery sidewalks this winter

Expert offers advice to those who may fall on winter ice

January 03, 2012|By Meredith Cohn

Temperatures are a little too warm for snow, but Maryland rarely goes a season without some of the slippery white stuff. So, it’s best to be prepared.

About 1 million people fall every year and about 20,000 die from their injuries, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Don’t be too confident, says Mike Ross, author of “The Balance Manual” and exercise physiologist at Gottlieb Center for Fitness in the Loyola University Health System.

He teaches balance classes to those 50 and older – a time when a person’s ability to balance weakens because changes in muscles and sensory perception, including in the inner ear where equilibrium is partially determined.

He has some tips to avoid slips and falls:

+Make sure you shoes and boots have traction.

+Keep a shovel and salt someplace handy and not stored away.

+Check your railings to make sure they are study and can support.

+Bring a cell phone every time you leave the house so you can call for help if needed.

+Allow extra time when it’s slippery so you’re not in such a hurry that you’re not careful.

+Ask for help from someone sturdy when crossing an icy sidewalk.

+Plan for what you would do if you fell.

+Exercise your legs so they are strong enough to help you steady yourself and get up if you fall. You can do this by walking up and down stairs or doing a set of 10 squats out of a chair a couple of times a week.

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