As part of our winter fall prevention tips for seniors, here are some tips on how you can walk on those icy walkways safely. Well, at least as safe as possible.
Let’s assume you must go out in bad weather. This isn’t ideal, but in knowing how to walk the right way, it’s possible that an elderly person can reduce the risk of falling.
I want to reiterate again that using the appropriate footwear will really help to make safe walking possible.
Also, it goes without saying that you and the senior should be dressed in a warm coat and should wear gloves and a hat in cold weather, just in case of a fall or being stranded in the car somewhere.
Tips On How To Walk On Icy Areas
Follow these tips to walk safely on icy surfaces.
Do The Penguin Walk
Some people refer to the correct style of walking on ice as the penguin walk, mostly because you sort of waddle like a penguin.
- The senior should bend their body so it’s facing forward and downward.
- Then, they need their feet flat on the ground, managing their center of gravity with each step they take as it is shifted above the feet.
- Then, just sort of shuffle or waddle forward.
Go One Small Step At A Time
Besides the style in which the senior walks, the pace will also be altered in snow and ice. Go very slowly, taking things one step at a time.
Short steps are best here, as by overextending, the senior could end up injured.
Again, make sure to leave plenty of time if venturing out after a snowstorm.
Think of how long it takes you and your senior to get ready to go anywhere, then double that time, as that’s a more realistic frame for reaching your destination.
Embrace the Shuffle
Don’t be afraid to embrace the penguin waddle, especially on inclines or uneven surfaces. It might look silly, but it’s much safer than a graceful slide into oblivion.
Eyes on the Prize (Not Your Feet)
While it might seem counterintuitive, avoid staring directly at your feet. Keep your gaze up and ahead, focusing on your destination.
This helps maintain your balance and avoid obstacles hidden beneath the ice.
Have Your Hands Out Of Your Pockets
Make sure your senior is outfitted in gloves or mittens so they don’t feel the urge to stuff their hands in their pockets. Instead, they should walk with their hands to either side of their body.
Use Sidewalks And Walkways
Don’t make walking more difficult by using paths that clearly haven’t be shoveled.
Stick to sidewalks and walkways only, as these are public walking spaces, so there’s a better chance someone salted or shoveled them.
That doesn’t necessarily mean the paths will be completely clear, but they’re a safer bet than an unshoveled street.
Be Prepared to Fall (Gracefully, if Possible)
Accidents happen, even with the best precautions. If you feel yourself slipping, try to bend your knees and roll with the fall to minimize injury.
Avoid using your outstretched arms to break your fall, as this can lead to sprains or fractures.
*TIP: Carry a small bag of kitty litter or sand and scatter it on the path ahead to help with your footing.
What To Do If You Do Fall
If you do happen to fall (it happens), it’s important to know what to do. After all, you don’t want to further injure yourself.