Winter in heaven (aka Wyoming) can be the most spectacularly beautiful time of the year. But it can also be the most dangerous season for those looking to fully immerse themselves in the environment …
Winter in heaven (aka Wyoming) can be the most spectacularly beautiful time of the year. But it can also be the most dangerous season for those looking to fully immerse themselves in the environment by foot, skis or skates.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about 1 million U.S. adults are injured due to slips and falls every year, with the injury rate increasing significantly as temperatures decline.
Honestly, most folks know ice is slippery. So why are there so many folks being injured on an annual basis?
I’m sure many people have valid reasons for falling. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I know why I fall. I’m not very smart.
I’ve had more than my share of falls. You’d think after the first dozen or so such falls I would have learned a few lessons. Trust me, I know I should have learned from my previous slips every time I find myself lying face-down on the driveway, sprawled across the stairs or embarrassed on a public sidewalk.
I have often been heard asking, “why am I so dumb?”
When I was younger I fell less. Unfortunately, I was much more adventurous back then and, when I did fall, it hurt a lot.
For example; I fell from a moving vehicle once while proving just how stupid I could be in high school. My mom would call me ornery in an attempt to not call me a moron. She was nice that way.
While I may not have been intelligent enough to understand mortality or to be careful, I definitely understood her kindly parental code words.
On another adventure I tumbled about 16 feet while looking for a place to crawl off a ledge to the banks of my favorite fishing hole on an Iowa river below. That fall cost me the ability to walk without pain for the past two decades.
More recently, I tripped on a crack in the sidewalk near my home in Powell. I tried to catch myself, but according to the CDC it was the worst thing I could have done.
“Don’t try to catch yourself with your arms. That can lead to more injuries,” they advise in the slips, trips and falls section of their immense health-oriented website.
I hate the CDC sometimes — especially when they’re right.
The fact is, being cautious seems like it would be a natural progression for a middle-aged man. And yet, I continue to find new and inventive ways to stumble and spill my fluffy frame and increasingly fragile appendages on hard surfaces.
I decided to look for more tips on staying safe.
“Falls are unexpected,” the CDC says.
Stating the obvious is a real talent for these folks — which is an odd use of their average employees’ four to six years of post-graduate education. Not once in the dozens of falls I’ve suffered did I plan to fall.
There are a few ways to decrease your risk of falling, the government’s health care arm continues.
“Wear proper footwear: Be sure you have a pair of lightweight boots with good support or purchase snow and ice grips for the bottoms of your shoes or boots.”
Decent tip. I’ve known about ice cleats for many years. I always wish I had some every single time I realize ice fishing can be slippery.
“Take your time. Do not hurry while walking outside. Pay attention to your steps and walk slowly,” they suggest.
I appreciate the CDC’s effort there, but life is not that simple. The speed of my canter is directly proportional to my need to find a restroom. There are times, at least at my age, that I need to run.
“Use assistance. Always use handrails, a walking stick, your walker or cane when out in winter weather.”
The last time I was frequenting the CDC website they warned against touching publicly frequented surfaces. Seems like now I need to make a choice between germs and fractures.
“Take small steps. Small steps, almost from side to side, help you maintain your center of gravity. Take small steps and waddle a bit like a penguin.”
If the CDC has ever said anything I have appreciated more, I have no idea what it is. Penguins!
“Stay inside. On days when it is icy and you do not need to go anywhere, stay inside.”
They should have stuck with more tips including penguins. Stay inside? Seriously? My dog, spouse and boss aren’t about to accept that excuse for not going on a walk, taking out the garbage or missing work.
They finish off their list of tips by advising, “If you do feel yourself falling, don’t try to catch yourself with your arms. That can lead to more injuries. Try to take the hit on your buttock or back. After a fall, wait for someone to help you in case you are injured or to avoid subsequent falls. Some people further injure themselves by springing up after a fall instead of waiting for help. Remember to always use your best judgment when out and about in the ice and snow. Be careful and aware of your surroundings, and you will be on your way to a safe and healthy winter.”
I’m going to file that with all the things I’ll remember next time I fall — right next to the common question I ask my self; how dumb can I be?
The fact is, falling is bad. It doesn’t take a doctorate to know that.
Breaking bones is pretty serious and tearing tendons and ligaments is worse. Head injuries are also something to be avoided if possible. Common sense stuff here.
The times I have split my head open are quite possibly the reason I wake up on a snow day and excitedly head into the great outdoors prior to looking for updates on safety from the CDC or utilizing my ice cleats.
I suppose keeping in mind how much pain is involved in falling down would be smart. And listening to doctors and scientists a little better, paying homage to their dedicated efforts to keep us safe; that wouldn’t kill me, either.