Expert: To protect yourself on ice, think like a penguin

Kent County

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The freezing rain is making even the most basic form of transportation dangerous, especially for the elderly.

“It doesn’t take much for someone over the age of 65 and maybe on blood thinners to fall and break their ribs or end up with a bleed on their head,” explained Meghan Crawley, who specializes in injury prevention at Spectrum Health Butterworth Trauma Services.

She says the key to walking in these conditions is moving like a penguin — taking short steps and moving slowly.

Crawley also recommends widening your stance and keeping your knees loose to lower your center of gravity.

“It’s going to give your body a little more ability to cope with the changing conditions and the slipperiness,” says Crawley.

And even though it may be cold, there’s a very good reason to keep your hands out of your pockets.

“If you put your hands in your pockets, you can’t catch yourself if you fall. It’s much better to land on your hands and scrape them up then to fall and break an arm, land on your head or scrape up your face,” she explained.

You can also buy ice cleats that stretch over the bottom of your shoes or boots to help grip any icy surfaces you walk on. They’re available online and at sporting goods stores.

Spectrum Health also shared the following tips to protect yourself when you head outside:

  • Keep your own walkways salted and clear. Many spills happen right on the front porch.
  • Choose to walk in snow accumulation rather than icy patches. Snow is safer.
  • Wear a backpack instead of carrying a bag, to keep your hands and arms free.
  • Don’t walk in the road. Vehicles slide.

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