By Mandy Vonderheid

Winter can be a beautiful season full of holiday cheer – not to mention activities that can only be done during this time of year, like skiing or ice fishing.

However, many Wisconsinites also dread winter for the below-zero temperatures, icy walkways, treacherous roads, and mountains of snow that seem to accumulate overnight.

Although it’s only the end of October, we already have low temperatures and winter precipitation in the forecast. That makes it the perfect time to give you tips on staying safe and upright during the upcoming winter months.

Falling can be scary and traumatic. Everyone is at risk for falling; however, older adults and those who have a current or recent injury are at increased risk – mostly due to a decrease in balance and reaction time.

Ice can also be very difficult to see during the day and at night, especially if it’s snow-covered.

Serious injuries from falling can include:
• Head trauma or concussion
• Fractures, especially hips, pelvis, and wrist
• Muscle strains of the low back or abdomen
• Sprains (ligaments), commonly affecting the ankle and knee joints
• Contusions (bruises)

How to avoid devastating falls: Tips from the experts

Dr. Banovetz’s tip: “Leave the mail in the mailbox.” Mail can wait until a winter storm passes and walkways are cleared.

Dr. Haemmerle’s advice: “Slow down and take your time.” Give yourself extra time to do outdoor tasks like unloading groceries from your car, salting or sanding your walkways, or simply walking.

PA-C Jim Lepak’s tip: “Be aware of where you are parking, and take your time getting out of the vehicle.” Don’t park in an area that has poor snow removal. If possible, park in a spot that you can see has been salted or sanded. When getting out of your vehicle, place both feet on the ground while remaining seated in the vehicle and then stand up (if possible), or have someone help you exit your vehicle.

Physical Therapist Kris Riggs says, “Take small steps and do not carry too much in your hands.” By shortening your steps you give your body a more solid base for balance.

Other Tips:

  • Be conscientious about de-icing your private walkways, driveway, and public sidewalks.
  • Pay attention to the weather in advance, and take care of chores that need to be completed before bad weather strikes. This way, you can cancel plans if you have to.
  • Carry or wear your cellphone or life-alert button if you are venturing outside, in case you need to call for help.
  • Wear proper footwear for winter conditions. Stylish footwear is not always the safe option. If hiking on trails or in the woods, consider traction cleats that are worn over shoes, like Yaktrax.™ *
  • If hunting or fishing in a remote area, bring a friend. Traveling in pairs during the winter months is always a good idea.

Even if these tips aren’t new to you, reviewing winter weather safety tips is something everyone should do before the snow and ice hit.

Your safety is our priority.

* We are not affiliated with YakTax™; this is just an example of available traction cleats.