The past few weeks have brought some treacherous weather to our region. One of the most dangerous, of course, is the freezing rain that covers everything in a layer of ice. While it may look pretty from the window (who doesn’t love seeing icicles dangling from the trees?), it’s likely that all of us at some point will find ourselves walking on it, and even driving on it. And, if we’re walking on it, it’s also likely that we’re going to fall. That could mean serious injury.
Luckily, there are some things we can do to ensure that, even if we fall, we minimize our injuries. Here are a few tips to protect your body when (and not if) you slip on ice.
Walk like a penguin!
The best way to protect ourselves is, of course, to try not to fall in the first place. Experts have found that walking like a penguin can greatly reduce a person’s risk of slipping on ice. That means feet pointed out, waddling, and leaning forward. This lowers the body’s center of gravity and spreads the weight out. Here’s a cute video with some more tips:
If you do lose your balance and start to slip, falling safely will greatly reduce the risk of injury. It’s possible that landing the wrong way could result in bruised or broken bones, not to mention severe muscle strains.
What does falling safely mean? It means quickly recognizing the situation and reacting to it appropriately. That includes tucking and protecting your head, turning your body in a way to lessen the impact, and keeping your muscles loose, which spreads the impact over your flexible body. Check out some more tips here.
Breathe easy and check in
When a person slips on ice, it’s important to not try to get up right away. Falling causes a lot of stress on our bodies, especially when we hit a hard surface like an icy driveway. Breathing will help to relax and focus both the mind and body, allowing the person can appropriately assess injuries before getting up.
Get up slowly, or just stay put.
Check-in with each part of the body, either by trying to slightly wiggle it or gently touching it with your hands. If there is any pain, it’s usually best to try to stay put and call for help. Only get up if the pain is not intense. If for whatever reason you’re in a dangerous place, such as in the middle of the road, and getting up isn’t an option, try gently scooting or rolling to a safer place.
Avoiding hypothermia is essential in these frigid temperatures. It’s even worse when lying flat on the ice because the cold ground can quickly absorb your body heat. Too much heat can get sucked out, leading to hypothermia, which itself is highly life-threatening. Even if a person is immobilized, they can still try to stay warm by moving their legs and arms in wide arcs as much as possible.
Seek post-fall medical attention
After someone falls on ice, it’s a good idea to receive medical attention from a doctor. Even if it feels like the body is ok, it’s possible to experience micro-fractions, which can lead to long-term injury and chronic pain. Be sure to seek a medical examination after a serious fall. Of course, if the person can get up and move around, this shouldn’t be necessary. But anything that feels more serious than that should be checked out by a professional as soon as possible.
If you or someone you know is experiencing pain from slipping on the ice, contact us right away. Our doctors and pain specialists can assess your injury and help you recover as quickly as possible.
In Maryland call 301.703.8767, or call 724-603-3560 in Pennsylvania to make an appointment or use the form on our site to send us a message.