COLUMBUS The Ohio Department of Aging is reminding Ohioans about steps they can take to protect themselves and others from slips, trips and falls that could lead to injury and hospitalization.
The most obvious threat for falls during the winter may be ice and snow. To stay safe when the ground beneath you is slippery:
Wear boots and shoes that fit properly and have soles with bumps and grooves for good traction.
Slow down. You may want to rush to get out of the conditions, but when you do, you are more likely to lose your balance. Give yourself extra time to get where you're going.
Make sure steps leading into your home have sturdy handrails that can support you if you slip.
Watch for slippery surfaces ahead of you. Keep your head up and use your eyes to look down.
Don't try to walk in more than an inch of snow. Deeper accumulations can cause you to trip.
Clean up ice and snow tracked indoors and immediately remove wet footwear.
When in doubt, ask for help.
Wintry weather can contribute to falls in other ways, such as:
Reduced activity Stay active all year round by engaging in exercise that builds strength and balance.
Tripping hazards Things we do to keep homes warm in winter can create tripping hazards. Keep space heaters and blankets out of walkways. Throw rugs to cover cold floors can be secured to the floor with tape.
Winter clothing Coats, gloves, hats and other winter clothing are designed to keep us warm, but items that are bulky, don't fit well or could catch on objects can increase the risk of falling.
Power outages Ice and snow can cause the power to go out, which can limit your ability to see obstacles.
Ohioans also are advised to check on older loved ones and neighbors because older adults may have a harder time adjusting during extreme conditions than younger people do. During severe weather, do a risk assessment to be sure they have the resources they need to stay safe and healthy.
Does the person need help walking or getting to the bathroom?
If the person has fallen, does he or she need medical attention?
Does the person depend on oxygen?
Is there access to clean drinking water? Can the person cook and safely store food?
Is there access to healthy, non-perishable food that can be prepared without electricity?
Can the home be kept at a comfortable temperature?
Does the person have an adequate supply of any prescription or over-the-counter medications?
Can he or she safely store and access his or her medications (some may need to be refrigerated or stored on ice)?
Does he or she have access to a phone that works, even if the power goes out ?
Is the cell phone sufficiently charged?
Have the person demonstrate how he or she would call for assistance.
More tips and resources for checking on loved ones and friends are available on the department's Facebook page, www.facebook.com/OhioDepartmentOfAging. More winter weather falls prevention tips are available online at www.steadyu.ohio.gov.