Falls account for more than 1 million injuries in the U.S. annually. There are four types of walking accidents, with the most common being the slip and fall. That's the type of fall that happens when one falls due a surface not cleared of snow or ice.
"Every winter, the hazards of driving in snow and icy conditions are noted, but rarely is walking on snow and ice addressed," said Martin B. Tirado, CAE, executive director of the Snow & Ice Management Association. "Slipping and falling while walking accounts for a large number of winter-related injuries and can have an impact on the quality of life for the injured person."
SIMA, the national nonprofit organization representing the snow removal industry, has some tips on safe winter walking.
•TIP 1: Wear proper footwear. Proper footwear should place the entire foot on the surface of the ground and have visible treads. Avoid a smooth sole and opt for a heavy treaded shoe with a flat bottom.
•TIP 2: Accessorize to see and be seen. Wear sunglasses so that you can see in the reflective light of the snow. Also, wear a bright coat or scarf so that drivers can easily see you.
•TIP 3: Plan ahead. While walking on snow or ice on sidewalks or in parking lots, walk consciously. Instead of looking down, look up and see where your feet will move next to anticipate ice or an uneven surface. Occasionally scan from left to right to ensure you are not in the way of vehicles or other hazards.
•TIP 4: Make sure you can hear. While seeing the environment is important, you also want to be sure you can hear approaching traffic and other noises. Avoid listening to music or engaging in conversation that may prevent you from hearing oncoming traffic or snow removal equipment.
•TIP 5: Anticipate ice. Be weary of thin sheets of ice that may appear as wet pavement (black ice). Often, ice will appear in the morning, in shady spots or where the sun shines during the day and melted snow refreezes at night.
•TIP 6: Walk steps slowly. When walking down steps, be sure to grip handrails firmly and plant your feet securely on each step.
•TIP 7: Enter a building carefully. When you get to your destination such as school, work, shopping center, etc., be sure to look at the floor as you enter the building. The floor may be wet with melted snow and ice.
•TIP 8: Be careful when you shift your weight. When stepping off a curb or getting into a car, be careful since shifting your weight may cause an imbalance and result in a fall.
•TIP 9: Avoid taking shortcuts. Shortcuts are a good idea if you are in a hurry, but may be a bad idea if there is snow and ice on the ground. A shortcut path may be treacherous, because it is likely to be located where snow and ice removal is not possible.
•TIP 10: Look up. Be careful about what you walk under. Injuries also can result from falling snow/ice as it blows, melts or breaks away from awnings, buildings, etc.
Following these tips will help ensure you survive the snow and ice season safely. For more snow and ice removal tips, visit SIMA.