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Published on Monday, January 15, 2024

Tips on staying safe and active in colder weather

By Bailey Ressler,

Grey Bruce Health Unit

 

Falls are the leading cause of unintentional injury in Grey-Bruce and older adults are at the highest risk of being injured from falling.

A fall can cause you to lose confidence and reduce your physical activity out of fear of falling again.

Staying physically active helps to reduce the risk of falling and with cold weather on the way, it’s important to consider how to stay safe and active during the winter season.

Walking helps to improve your social, mental and physical health and well-being, while also improving muscle strength. While keeping active is important, you need to consider the impact cold temperatures, ice and snowfall can have on your risk of a slip, fall or injury while walking.

Here are some winter walking safety tips:

  • Tell someone before you leave;
  • Dress in layers – this way, you can be prepared if the weather changes;
  • Be sure to wear gloves, a hat and a scarf;
  • Wear bright colours so you are easily seen and wear something reflective if walking at night;
  • Be aware of your surroundings – watch for cracks, ice and uneven walking surfaces;
  • Give your eyes time to adjust when going from inside to outside or vice versa;
  • If you find yourself on ice, move slowly, shorten your strides and shuffle your feet;
  • Keep your hands out of your pockets to help with balance; and
  • Choose stable, non-slip footwear that is well insulated and lightweight.

Choosing the correct footwear can help to reduce your risk of falling, especially in winter weather conditions. But, how do you know if you’re choosing the right footwear?

At the KITE Research Institute, a part of the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute at the University Health Network, engineers, researchers, clinicians and more have been working to make choosing the best footwear a simple science. They perform a variety of slip resistance testing measures in their WinterLab on an ice floor, in below-zero temperatures and up to 30-kilometre-per-hour winds.

Using this WinterLab, the researchers at KITE have developed a database called Rate My Treads. Here, users can search through many popular brands and styles of footwear and learn which ones have the highest slip resistance rating in both cold and wet ice. This can allow you the freedom to walk safely in winter weather conditions; confidently knowing you’ve chosen the best footwear available to you.

Staying active all year round is essential to health and well-being. It’s important to remember falls are preventable and to ensure you are taking all necessary precautions to avoid one. Staying active is key, but it’s also important to stay safe and avoid injury to ensure you’re able to enjoy being physically active for many years to come.

For more information on Rate My Treads, visit: kite-uhn.com/rmt

Winter Walking & Fall Prevention; publichealthgreybruce.on.ca/Your-Health/Injury-Prevention

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