Gain a Foothold on Winter Walking Safety

Tread carefully in slush and ice, and use caution when exiting transportation

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SUNDAY, Dec. 30, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Staying on your feet in the snow, slush and ice of winter requires special walking tactics, health and safety experts say.

"You can never be too careful, particularly since we haven't had this type of weather in quite awhile," Dr. Ronald Grelsamer, a hip and knee specialist at Mount Sinai's Department of Orthopaedics in New York City, said in a prepared statement. "People should also pay special attention when exiting trains, buses and cars, because you never know what the surface will be like until your feet hit the ground, especially at night."

Grelsamer offered three key techniques to safe winter walking:

  • Move feet slightly apart while walking. This provides better balance. A very slippery street can also be better managed with slightly bent knees.
  • Walk sideways down an incline. While many people may be tempted to cross one foot over another going downhill, Grelsamer warned this actually makes balancing more difficult. As with slippery surfaces, slightly bent knees can help maintain balance on a steep slope.
  • Plan to protect the dominant arm -- that's the right one for right-handed people, the left for lefties. Falls are unpredictable, but holding a coat over that dominant arm or a package in that hand may force the use of the other, weaker arm in the event of a fall.

More information

For more winter weather safety and planning tips, visit Ready.America.

SOURCE: Mount Sinai Medical Center, news release, December 2007

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