Getting the Mail Can Kill You!
That’s what I was thinking as I negotiated the glare of ice covering my driveway as I pulled the trash dumpster down to grab the mail. There’s a tip right there. Use that big ol' dumpster like a walker with wheels. And consolidating dangerous missions to make fewer life-risking trips makes sense too.
A few times a year in Michigan, we get those ice-rink-like conditions, and we all know what driving is like. But just walking can be treacherous! As I’m doing the “shuffle” to the mailbox, or from the parking lot, I can’t help but think what a fall could do. You could hit your head, break a wrist, wrench your back, or worse. Aside from lost time at work, or not being able to do everyday things like taking a shower, people have died.
So…here’s a few tips that might help:
- Be aware. Conditions are not normal. You can’t just forge ahead like it’s a normal day. If you do, you may get a painful reminder.
- Do the shuffle, or the “duck” or “penguin” walk and don’t worry about how dumb you look. Take short steps or shuffle for stability.
- Bend slightly forward and walk flat-footed with your center of gravity directly over your feet as much as possible. If you do start to fall, turn your head to protect your nose, chin, and face.
- Keep your hands out of your pockets. You can use your arms for balance, like a tight rope walker. If you take time to put on gloves, you’ll be less likely to put your hands in your pockets, and you’ll be better equipped to use your hands and forearms to cushion your fall. Always protect your head. If you find yourself falling, pivot to your side and tuck in your head.
- Walk on the grassy or crusty snow edge of an icy driveway or sidewalk for better traction.
- Don’t text or read while walking. Didn’t we just pass a law against that anyway? Ok…maybe not yet, but I'm sure one is coming.
- Put on that big puffy coat, like the kid in “The Christmas Story”. That’ll cushion the blow, if you fall.
- Avoid melting ice. Ice is much slipperier when it's really melting.
- Avoid falling into outstretched hands. You could break a wrist. Bend your elbows and knees and try to take the hit on your meaty parts like the side of your thigh, buttocks and shoulder. Roll with it to spread out the force of impact, instead of concentrating it on one body part.
- For heaven’s sake, relax! Tensing up will only do more damage if you fall, and probably contribute to you falling in the first place. You know what they say, drunks often escape the worst injuries in an accident, because they’re not tensed up.
- Wear shoes or boots that provide traction on snow and ice.
- Footwear made of rubber and neoprene composite provide better traction than plastic and leather soles.
- Wear flat-soled shoes. Avoid shoes with heels.
- Products are available with abrasive soles or cleats that provide special traction for walking on snow and ice, such as Yaktrax. Just remember to take them off when you get inside.
- Consider making your shoes or boots more ‘ice friendly” by treating the soles. I haven’t tried these, but here are some ideas.
- If you’re an ice skater, it’s a chance to show off and end up on somebody’s YouTube. Of course just taking a fall could have you end up in a viral video. Nobody wants that.
No doubt, being a Michigander, you have some tips too. Let us know and we’ll add them to the list.