A Walk on Ice is Not Nice: Small Steps for Safety on Snow and Ice
(ARA) - Sandra Gimpel fell more than 500 times in the last year-without serious injury. Not so fortunate were some 16,000 Americans who die each year from falls, according to the National Safety Council (NSC).
The difference? Gimpel's falls were not accidental, but planned and executed with precision. She is a 3rd degree black belt Karate instructor and Hollywood stunt woman who earns a living falling in movies and television commercials.
Falls rival poisoning as the number one home accident in the U.S. The number of injuries or deaths from falls due to winter conditions is not recorded by the NSC. But, safety experts agree that many injuries result from falls on ice-covered surfaces.
It's important that individuals recognize the hazards of slippery surfaces. Here are helpful hints from winter-safety experts that will reduce the risk of falling when slippery conditions exist:
Wear boots or overshoes with soles. Avoid walking in shoes that have smooth surfaces, which increase the risk of slipping.
Walk consciously. Be alert to the possibility that you could quickly slip on an unseen patch of ice. Avoid the temptation to run to catch a bus or beat traffic when crossing a street.
Walk cautiously. Your arms help keep you balanced, so keep hands out of pockets and avoid carrying heavy loads that may cause you to become off balance.
Walk "small." Avoid an erect, marching posture. Look to see ahead of where you step. When you step on icy areas, take short, shuffling steps, curl your toes under and walk as flatfooted as possible.
Remove snow immediately before it becomes packed or turns to ice. Keep your porch stoops, steps, walks and driveways free of ice by frequently applying ice melter granules. This is the best way to prevent formation of dangerous ice patches. Using a potassium-based melter, such as Safe Step, instead of salt will prevent damage to concrete, grass and other vegetation or to carpets and floors should you track in some.
Even when you practice safe walking habits, slipping on ice is sometimes unavoidable.
"It takes less than two seconds from the moment you slip until you hit the ground," says Sandra Gimpel. "That's precious little time to react. In that instant, the risk is an injury to your head, a wrist, hip or shoulder."
Gimpel says knowing how to fall will help you reduce the risk of injury. In the stunts she performs and the Karate courses she teaches, Gimpel uses a tuck-and-roll principle.
"It's important to tuck your body, lift your head and avoid trying to break the fall with a hand, which can cause a wrist injury," says Gimpel. "The idea is to make yourself as small as possible by rolling up into a ball." She suggests you practice the techniques as follows:
Sit on the floor with your legs out flat in front of you. To simulate a backwards fall, slowly begin to lie back toward the floor and quickly tuck your head forward, chin to chest. At the same time, lift your knees to your chest and extend your arms away from your body and "slap" the ground with your palms and forearms. This maneuver will help prevent your head, wrists and elbows from hitting the ground.
Assume the original position. To practice a sideways fall - which usually causes a shoulder, hip, elbow or wrist injury - begin to roll to one side or the other. As you do so, lay out your arm parallel to your body so that your forearm, not your wrist or shoulder, is first to contact the floor. Also, lift your head toward your shoulder opposite the fall. Next, practice the procedure in the opposite direction.
From a kneeling position, practice for a potential front fall. Begin to lean forward and as you fall, roll to one side, laying out your arm parallel to your body, again so the forearm and not your wrist makes contact with the floor. Lift your head to the opposite shoulder and continue to roll.
Following these guidelines may not qualify you to handle movie stunts, but they can help protect you from serious injury this winter.
Courtesy of ARA Content, www.aracontent.com, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org