Icy Sidewalks? Walk like a Penguin.
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This week, the unavoidable news on TV--you'd think nothing else in the world was worthy of our attention--is that it’s cold. Yes, it's so cold, folks, they even named it. We are experiencing what they're calling a “polar vortex,” a whirlpool of frigid, dense air swirling over us, causing frostbite and hypothermia, delaying airline traffic, and creating temperatures in Chicago that rival and beat the South Pole.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about a million people each year take a fall, with thousands dying from complications of those falls. Your chances of slipping dramatically increase as you attempt to navigate icy surfaces. The polar vortex is creating ice all over the place. We as caregivers need to do all in our power to prevent the dreaded slip on the ice.
Start by examining everyone’s footwear before heading outside. Boots should have a sturdy sole and deep tread. If those old boots you've been wearing every winter since the ice age have smooth bottoms, it's time for a new pair. Another alternative is to get ice traction cleats that stretch over almost any shoe or boot. They are inexpensive and work well. When dressing to go out, remember a puffy coat, lots of layers, and thick gloves will help break a fall.
There are other precautions we can take as we venture out into the ice and snow and attempt to stay vertical. All surfaces, remember, may be slippery, even if they don’t appear so. We've all heard of black ice that simply looks like a shiny sidewalk until--oops--you go flying. A heightened sense of awareness of your surroundings will help signal your brain to be more cautious. To that end, pay attention to where you are walking and what surface you are walking on. That means don’t be fumbling for something in your handbag, like me, mea culpa, mindlessly talking on your cell phone or aimlessly texting.
Keep your hands out of your pockets and your arms free to help maintain your balance. Be cognizant that carrying bulky items makes keeping your balance more difficult. If you must walk across a patch of ice, walk like a penguin! Your center of gravity widens when you point your toes out and shift your weight from side to side. Take short shuffling steps, bend slightly and try to curl your toes under and walk flatfooted as possible. It may not be pretty but it works. Have you ever seen a penguin slip and fall? I rest my case.
My 3 tips for making nice on the ice:
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