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Winter Walking Tips

Winter Walking Tips: Lower Your Risk of Falling

Falls are a serious concern. Falling can result in bruises, sprains, or more serious injuries like broken bones or concussions.

Melting snow can freeze overnight, forming a thin layer of ice that is hard to see. The ground can then become very slippery in the morning when the ice starts to melt. No matter how well the snow is removed from parking lots or sidewalks, there will still be places that are slippery.

What you wear on your feet can make a difference whether you fall or not. Boots or shoes that are well fitting and have a good grip are the best choice. Special items like shoe grips or ice cleats can give you extra traction when you are walking on snowy or icy surfaces. ​You can buy these items from many different places like department or sporting good stores. Remove these grips or cleats when walking inside because they can make you slip on indoor flooring.

How can I avoid slipping and falling on snow or ice?

  • Whether you use a gait aid or not, find a path around the snow or ice when you can.
  • Walk slowly and take small steps. Point your toes out slightly to make yourself more stable on icy paths.
  • Keep your head up and don’t lean forward.
  • Keep your hands out of your pockets to help keep your balance.
  • If you use a cane, you can buy an ice pick for the cane.
  • Learn how to walk like a penguin.

More tips for winter walking

  • Plan ahead to make sure you have enough time to get where you are going.
  • Assume that all wet, dark areas on the pavement may be slippery or icy. If you can, walk around them.
  • Walk on cleared walkways—avoid shortcuts that have not been cleared.
  • Do not text and walk at the same time.
  • Use handrails on stairs and ramps.
  • If you are walking on a slope where there are no handrails, take extra caution.
  • Consider carrying a small shaker or container of sand or grit to sprinkle on icy or sloped surfaces that you cannot walk around.
  • Use sand or grit on your steps and walkways.
  • Avoid carrying heavy things or large objects that block your view. They can also make you lose your balance.

Current as of: November 18, 2016

Author: Fall Risk Management Program, Alberta Health Services