As the year comes to a close and the temperature steadily drops, seniors have to be on the look out for the dangers that can come with winter. The scenery and crisp fresh air of the season are great reasons to get out and go for a walk, but walking during this time does come with its challenges, especially for an older generation.
Whether it’s high concentrations of snow, freezing rain, or ice, winter makes it tough for active seniors to get out and do what they love. One simple slip and fall on an icy or snowy sidewalk can have severe long term consequences that you’ll want to avoid.
There are precautions you can take to help make the best of the winter season and allow you to continue carrying out your healthy lifestyle. This week, we’ve gathered some simple winter safety tips that can keep your winter walks injury-free.
Outfitting Yourself Before You Head Out
Always begin by getting a pair of secure and reliable winter boots before you leave for a walk. You’ll want them to be well insulated and waterproof to keep your feet warm and dry so you don’t succumb to frostbite. Make sure the sole of the boot is thick and non-slip with a lot of grooves for traction, this is crucial to maintaining steady balance as you walk.
If you want to go one step further, you can purchase ice grippers for your shoes at your local professional workwear outfit store. These are perfect for walking on heavily iced or snowed over areas. But before you walk on a smooth surface, like inside your home, take these grippers off as they are very slippery when used on surfaces like stone and tile.
If you use a cane, consider getting a retractable ice pick for the end of it. These can be purchased at most drug and hardware stores and are relatively inexpensive. These types of attachments can make a huge difference for the user who has a cane but still wants to enjoy daily walks.
For the rest of your winter attire, wear brighter colours and reflective material that will alert drivers and make them easier to see you in snowy conditions. Always dress in layers and wear insulated winter coats to help prevent heat loss when out for your walk.
Keeping Your Property Safe for Other People
Using your new-found winter outfitting tips, head out and clear your driveway and sidewalk of snow and ice to make it safe for other people. If you need assistance or are unable to clear your property on your own, ask a family member for help or contact a local community support and services agency.
After shoveling, always be sure to lay down some winter salt or simply throw sand onto heavily iced areas for traction. Be careful when de-icing your walkways and only walk on the ice while equipped with the proper gear or apply your de-icer from a safe spot before continuing. If you see any hazards, report them to the city and do not attempt to remove them yourself.
How to Tackle Icy Surfaces During a Walk
As we mentioned above, seniors really should try to completely outfit themselves for icy conditions before going on a walk. But these helpful winter products don’t take all the worry away from walking on icy surfaces.
You should do your best to avoid ice patches, but sometimes they may be unavoidable. When walking over ice, keep your body loose and your feet more than a foot apart to give your body stable support.
You can further increase your stability by bending your knees slightly and lowering your center of gravity as you move. To ensure a wide base of support for your body, always place your whole foot on the ground when stepping and shift your weight slowly when on the ice.
Planning Out Your Route
Your best defence against a treacherous ice filled walk is to simply plan ahead before you leave the house. Instead of walking alone, have a friend or relative tag alone so you’re not alone when out of the house.
Having someone with you as you walk is the best way to ensure that you are in active contact with someone should something happen. If you are alone, keep a cell phone or other form of emergency communication on you at all times.
Keep an eye out for dangerous ice or snow filled areas of your neighbourhood and build a safer walking plan around avoiding those places. Having this plan in place can help you steer clear of potentially surprising danger areas and can give you more piece of mind when out for a winter walk.