Sun, May 27, 2018 10:27 PM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue

This n' That

The ice age

01/24/2007 - Have you ever wondered how many people are injured each year from falling on ice?

This question never entered my mind until I became a casualty a couple of weeks ago when I slipped and fell on ice that had formed on my driveway the night before. Like everybody does when they slip and fall, my first reaction was to get up as fast as I could before anyone could see what an idiot I had been. Forget that my left leg was in immense pain; my pride was hurt a lot worse, and I had to recover from the embarrassment as soon as I could.

One thing I noticed as I got back up was that I hadn't sprained my ankle like I usually do when I fall. I've lost count of how many times I've sprained my ankle over the years, but four would probably be an accurate estimate. The first and worst injury occurred when I was jumping on a trampoline, went too high and somehow ended up on the ground. That was the type of injury where your first instinct is to throw up. Luckily, I didn't, but it took everything I had to control my stomach.

Thank goodness I didn't hurt my ankle when I fell on the ice a couple of weeks ago, but the rest of my left leg sure took a licking. After two weeks, I'm still walking like Long John Silver, but I can tell the injuries are starting to heal.

Getting back to my initial question of how many people are injured every year from falling on ice, I sought an answer to the question on the Internet but came up with little results. What I did find, however, were tips to use whenever walking on ice during the winter. While it would have been nice to run across these tips BEFORE I performed a break dance on my driveway, I thought it would be the courteous thing to do to provide the tips to others so they don't make the mistake I did. So, whenever walking on ice this year:

Wear boots or overshoes with good treads. Slick leather or plastic soles on shoes may increase the risk of slipping.

Don't walk with your hands in your pockets. This reduces the ability to use your arms for balance if you do slip.

Take short shuffling steps in very icy areas.

Don't carry or swing heavy loads, such as large boxes, cases or purses that may cause you to become off balance when you are walking.

When walking, curl your toes under and walk as flat-footed as possible.

Don't step on uneven surfaces. Avoid curbs with ice on them.

Place your full attention on walking. Digging in your pocketbook or backpack while walking on ice is dangerous.

If the sidewalks and walkways are impassable and you have to walk in the street, walk against traffic and as close to the curb as you can.

Because of road conditions, motorists may not be able to stop at traffic signals or slow down for pedestrians. Before you step off of the curb into the street, make sure that any approaching vehicles have come to a complete stop. Also, make eye contact with the driver to assure that he or she sees you.

Bend your knees a little and take slower steps to greatly reduce your chances of falling.

I'll also add a few tips that are not on the list:

Just because there isn't ice on your steps doesn't mean there isn't ice on the pavement. In fact, if there is water on the ground the night before freezing temperatures, chances are excellent there will be ice the next morning. Wear ice-hockey gear if at all possible.

If you're taking the garbage out, make sure it doesn't block your view. Better yet, avoid taking trash out period during the winter months. It might stink up your house, but at least you won't hurt yourself, unless, of course, you trip on it in the kitchen.

Always look outside and evaluate the situation before leaving your house. If there's ice on the ground, call in sick. You won't be able to get to a phone after you've torn your legs and arms all to heck.

Those tips, my friends, will hopefully save you a lot of pain this winter.

Appalachian Regaional
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