Alberta can be a cold place; temperatures below freezing are possible 8 months out of the year. Freezing temperatures often come at night following warmer days, creating a melt-and-freeze cycle. This cycle can cover sidewalks and parking lots with a layer of sheer ice that can be difficult to navigate safely on foot. Changeable Alberta weather can catch you off guard—you can walk out of the house in the morning in dress shoes or high heels, but by nightfall you’ll need snow boots. With some advance preparation and a little bit of caution, you can avoid a slippery situation and a potential injury.
How to Avoid a Slip and Fall AccidentWith every step we take, one leg rushes past the other, and the forward foot plants itself as the other foot lifts off to take the next step. Depending on your speed, your gait, and the length of your legs, the toe of your stepping foot will pass your planted foot at speeds in excess of 18 km/h, mere millimetres from the ground. Your foot plants heel first as you transfer your weight forward, but if there is a loss of traction as is common on ice, your foot will slip forward, your body will lose its support, and you will likely fall. A fall on a hard surface can result in strains, sprains, fractures, cuts, or even a severe head injury. Even if you manage to recover from the slip, you will likely strain or pull your muscles in your attempt to regain your balance. The best way to deal with a slip and fall is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Here are some things you can do to keep your feet under you where they belong:
- Wear appropriate footwear. In the winter months, wear boots with thick soles and deep treads which will provide better traction on ice and snow. If you want to wear dress shoes or high heels, or your job requires it, wear boots for the outside portions of your day and keep your indoor shoes in your office or car to change into for indoor wear.
- Be mindful of your surroundings. Is there ice and snow on the ground? Have the walkways been salted or sanded? Are there any steep hills or stairs on your path that can be avoided? It is preferable to walk in deeper snow than on ice, as the snow will provide some traction, but beware a light dusting of snow on top of ice as it can make the surface even more slippery. If you find yourself unavoidably on an icy surface, slow down, take shorter steps, use your arms and upper body for balance, and bend your knees to lower your centre of gravity.
- Keep your own walkways clear and safe. Many slip and fall accidents happen at home, so do your part to keep you, your family and friends, and anyone who walks on your property safe. Shovel your walks as soon as possible after a snowfall, and use sand and salt as necessary to melt ice and provide traction. Aim downspouts away from walkways to avoid runoff freezing. Chip away at ice dams which cause pooling and prevent water from draining away.