Every season brings something new and unique. Spring brings flowers blooming, summer offers relaxation and sunshine, and fall provides exquisite fall foliage and crisp air. Winter brings exhilarating weather for winter sports enthusiasts.
However, each season carries specific hazards. Spring rains may produce thunderstorms, while the summer sun can easily cause a painful burn. But the season that is most risky in terms of safety is winter, thanks to the many forms of frozen water – ice, sleet, and snow.
According to the World Health Organization, globally, a slip and fall injury clocks in as the 2nd leading cause of unintentional injury deaths (second only to road traffic injuries). More than 37 million falls are serious enough to require the attention of a medical doctor. The NFSI (The National Floor Safety Institute) notes that one of every three people 65+ will fall annually; half of these individuals will be repeat fallers.
Even a simple fall on ice or snow can cause a severe and traumatic injury. This is the primary reason to understand the risks and treatments of injuries that may be caused by a slip and fall injury on ice or snow. The level of risk or injury associated with a slip and fall is contingent upon the age and the health of the individual who has sustained the injury. The most at-risk demographics for a slip and fall injury would be senior citizens and pregnant women.
Seniors are especially at risk for a serious injury from a slip and fall in winter or any other time. The aging process naturally and gradually, through wear and tear, impairs some of the body’s musculoskeletal functions. The result is that the body’s bones and muscles have become more brittle and fragile and, thus, more susceptible to a severe injury from a fall in the winter.
Injuries Created By Slip and Fall Accidents
Compared to different kinds of slip and fall accidents, when someone loses their footing on snow-covered ice or ice, they hit the ground harder by falling faster from a physics perspective. Although injuries created by slip and fall accidents vary in terms of severity, these are the most common-
Sprains & Strains
A strain or sprain is an injury that stretches or tears at the body’s soft tissue. A strain affects a tendon or a muscle, whereas a sprain affects ligaments. Each type of injury from a slip and fall limits one’s range of motion and causes severe pain. Slip and fall accidents that cause strains/sprains typically impact the ankle or wrist joints.
Back & Spine & Spinal Cord Injuries
An accidental slip and fall cause about 30% of spinal cord injuries. People who have suffered a spinal cord injury are 2-5 times more likely to die prematurely compared to those without spinal cord injuries.
When landing on your back, the force from a fall can fracture a vertebra, which applies pressure on the spinal cord when it leads to severe pain and even paralysis. A slip and fall can also cause a slipped, compressed, or herniated disc – the disc is a fibrous area that cushions each vertebra. These injuries often impair mobility and cause tremendous pain.
Fractured, Dislocated, & Broken Bones
More than 95% of hip fractures that occur result from a slip and fall injury. Falls can cause a number of different types of broken bones – from wrists to elbows, hips, and ankles.
Head & Traumatic Brain Injuries
When an individual’s head hits the ground with full force (usually first), the result can be a devastating injury. Brain injuries, like a concussion, typically worsen over time – especially if left untreated. If you have hit your head from a fall, it is imperative that you seek medical help.
Cuts & Bruises
Lacerations may need stitches or even surgery.
There are a few ways to decrease your risk of falling in winter.
- Choose Footwear That is Appropriate for the Weather Conditions.
A lightweight, supportive boot is a must for icy and snowy conditions. Note that you can purchase snow grips that can be added to the bottom of boots/shoes. Winter footwear should be safe and comfortable and not speak to the latest fashion.
- Be Mindful & Take Your Time
When the pavement is wet or slick, be mindful of each step and walk slowly towards your destination.
- Use Available Assistance
When available, the use of a handrail, walker, cane, or walking step can be help keep you safe and balanced in dangerous winter conditions.
- Take Small Steps
Try to take small, side-to-side precise steps, which helps maintain one’s center of gravity on slippery surfaces. This motion mimics that of a penguin. Do not make quick movements or change direction quickly.
- Stay Inside
Be wise, and on days with dangerous snow or ice conditions, stay inside unless you must.
- Increase Vitamin D Intake if Deficient
- Keep Walkways & Driveways Clear of Snow & Ice
Stay on top of snow and use ice-melt as often as needed.
There are a number of ways to proactively help keep you safe from a slip and fall accident during the winter months. Consider
- Taking the circuitous route to avoid slippery surfaces.
- Don’t get distracted and focus on each next step. Stay off the phone. Avoid carrying items that may be awkward to carry and cause imbalance.
- Choose slip-resistance footwear. Manufacturers offer heavily textured/ridged/waffled soles.
- Pay attention to changing walking surfaces. Try to avoid icy curbs or steps.
- Clean your boots when in a building. The existing ice or snow remaining on the shoe can create a wet, slippery floor.
Older adults can mitigate potential injuries in the winter by considering one of these helpful suggestions –
- Learn & Practice Tai Chi
- Gait/Balance Training
- Stay Active to keep leg muscles strong
- Make your home safer, if necessary
- Reducing psychotropic or blood thinning drugs that may cause dizziness
- Fall-Risk Assessments & Interventions
What to Do If You Fall?
If you feel yourself falling unexpectedly, it is a good idea not to break your fall with arms, hands, or wrists. This instinctual move tends to cause more injuries than it prevents. If you do fall, wait for help if you have been injured. The buttocks offer the best option to hit first. If you get up and have injured yourself, you might cause additional injuries. Consider –
- It helps to roll into the fall if you are falling in a forward direction.
- Actively move to a sit-down position are falling in a backward direction.
Contact a Slip and Fall Injury Attorney
To avoid serious injuries that were caused by a slip and fall accident, choose to use your best judgment about each scenario. Staying focused on your surroundings (pavement, cars, lighting, weather) is the best way to stay safe when winter weather hits.
If you have been a victim in a slip and fall accident, it can lead to life-altering consequences. Some falls may be moderate, while others can cause death. It is prudent to consult with a slip and fall injury attorney as they can help facilitate what can be a long and difficult recovery. Let us help you determine the damages you deserve having been the victim of a slip and fall accident. If you injured by a heavy truck, then for compensation contact 18 wheeler accident lawyer San Antonio attorney for quick response and claim.