Slips, trips and falls: How to stay safe in icy weather

In many parts of the country, winter means icy roads and sidewalks.  With ice comes an increased risk of falls and injury. Here are some tips on how to lessen the risk of falls in icy conditions.

How to avoid ice-related slips, trips and falls

A downward view of legs standing on icePrevention is key. Black ice can be hard to see, so always walk carefully on icy surfaces. Other ways to prevent falls include:
  • Walking on designated walkways, especially those that have been treated for ice.
  • Taking shorter steps and walking slower.
  • Wearing proper footwear with lots of traction or ice spikes.
  • Getting rid of distractions when walking. Put your phone away and try not to carry heavy items .

How to treat injuries from slips and falls

If you slip on ice and fall, the first thing you should do is to determine if you are hurt. Whether you think you are hurt or not, sit still for a few minutes to calm yourself and get your bearings, then take a moment to check your body for pain or injuries. If none seem to be present, try getting up slowly. If you’re with someone who fell and is unable to get up, call for help and keep him or her warm. If your own or someone else's head hit the ground, or if it appears that a bone is broken, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. 
Even if you aren’t seriously injured, a bad fall can leave you bruised and achy for days. If you have a bad bruise or sore muscles, use the RICE Method:
REST – Stop any current activities and rest without moving or straightening the injured body part.
IMMOBILIZE – Immobilize the injured area.
COOL – Cool the injured area for up to 20 minutes of every hour for up to 48  hours, to reduce swelling and pain. Do not rub the ice or cold pack on the injured area. If you use ice, put some sort of thin, dry cloth or pad between it and the skin to avoid freezing it.
ELEVATE – Keep the injured area above the level of the heart, if possible.
Also remember that some injuries from falls may not show symptoms right away. If you don’t improve within a few days, call your doctor or your care provider.

How to recognize a fracture or a sprain

If you observe any of the following symptoms, call 911immediately:
  • Deformity, swelling, haematoma or bruising at the site of the injury
  • Pain and or difficulty in moving the body part
  • Shortening, twisting or bending of the limb
  • A broken bone or bone fragments sticking out of the skin
  • The sound of a snap or a pop when the injury happened
  • A sensation or sound of bones grating.
  • Limited or no use of the injured body part 
  • Possible muscle cramps
  • Numbness or tingling

If you have a concussion

A concussion can result from even a seemingly minor bump, blow, or jolt, and may be difficult to recognize because the signs and symptoms may not be immediately obvious. The most common ones are confusion, difficulty concentrating or remembering things, fatigue, dizziness, nausea and irritability. A person does not need to become unresponsive to have a concussion. If you suspect you have a concussion, even a mild one, it is important to seek medical care.
Please note that these tips provided by our Prevention and Safety team and are not a substitute for first aid training. To learn first aid skills and knowledge and improve your confidence to respond in an emergency, register for first aid training. Find a course near you.

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