20 Tips for Slip-and-Fall Season
Wet leaves and dropping temperatures mean that we have entered what physical therapists often call “slip and fall season.” Walkways and parking lots will be slick, in places, until spring. Falls often come with painful and debilitating injuries. Luckily, there are many small steps you can take to stay on your feet. For Physical Therapy Month, celebrated every October, I want to share them with you.
- When possible, walk with a partner.
- Tell your doctor if you have fallen or if you think you might.
- Check with your doctor to see if your medications could be making you dizzy.
- Sign up for a fitness class to help you maintain and improve balance and strength. They are often held at recreation and senior centers.
- Get your eyes and ears checked yearly and keep your eyeglass prescription up to date. Keen senses can help you avoid falls.
- Stay in shape by eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.
- Get enough sleep.
- Limit or avoid alcohol.
- Watch for obstacles. Avoid uneven pavement, fallen branches, and other debris.
- Note the height of the curb as you step down. Be aware of changes in the slope of the sidewalk.
Equipment is key.
- Keep sand or salt handy to use on walkways when they are slippery.
- Wear well-fitting low-heeled rubber-soled shoes with traction.
- Use a cane or walker for stability, especially if your healthcare provider has recommended you do.
- Keep your hands free by using a bag, backpack, or purse to carry items.
- At night, park in well-lit areas. Keep a flashlight with fresh batteries with you for times when you need to park in darker places.
- Always use the handrails.
- Turn on the porch light before leaving the house in the evening.
Take it easy.
- Take your time. Stand up slowly.
- Know your limits. Don’t take on more than you should.
- Stay inside when the weather is bad. Get prescriptions and groceries delivered.
Glenn Chaney, MS, PT, is a physical therapist at SVMC Deerfield Valley Campus in Wilmington and SVMC Outpatient Rehabilitation in Bennington. Both practices are a part of Southwestern Vermont Health Care in Bennington.