Here’s the safest way to fall if you’re slipping on snow and ice

Safety tips for staying safe after heavy snowfall

With all of the snow and ice that has been falling Wednesday (Feb. 2), also come often trips to the emergency room for preventable injuries.

DETROIT – With all of the snow and ice that has been falling Wednesday (Feb. 2), also come often trips to the emergency room for preventable injuries.

Most people have slipped and fallen on the ice at one point in their lives. But when we do, there is a preferred way to fall.

If you can muster the presence of mind, first off, your instinct might be to try to catch yourself with your arms, don’t. When you try to catch yourself with your hands, all your weight gets absorbed by your wrists. Falling on an outstretched hand leads to wrist fractures.

My advice is, when you’re going down, as ungraceful as it looks, try to let your knees bend to get your bottom closer to the ground and land as much on your bottom and side as possible.

Here are some more tips:

  • Everyone has their own way when shoveling snow, but ergonomics is one thing to keep in mind. Suppose you can find a shovel with a curved handle that can make lifting a lot safer for your back.
  • Another essential thing to remember to help your back is not picking up a load of snow at all. Just push it off your driveway.
  • And if you do pick it up, you don’t have to fill your shovel or move it far. Lifting and twisting a full load is a sure way to strain your muscles.

If you use a snowblower, keep safety in the front of your mind.

  • First, they’re loud, so wear some ear protection.
  • Next, even though this isn’t common when it happens, it’s devastating. If a rock or stick jams the blades or impellers, don’t use your hand to clear it. If an item is engaged and starts moving, it’s not hard to imagine what this would do to your hand, so use the tool provided, or a stick, to clear the obstruction after you shut down the snowblower.
  • Also, if you have a two-stage snow thrower and get a rock caught in the impeller, it can get thrown out of the chute and hurt someone or damage property, so keep an eye out for objects in your path.

Read: Things you should keep in your car to be prepared for emergencies

Most of us are going to drive in the snow. Accidents will happen, but one critical thing I want to mention is do not get out of your car if there is any ongoing road hazard like snow or ice.

I’ve seen too many people standing outside of their car after losing control while driving on ice in the emergency room; for example, they were then struck by another vehicle that hit the same patch of ice.

When in doubt, the safest place is in your car. Just hang a flag outside your window and call 911 if necessary.

Finally, I would be remiss not to mention that snow is a heart attack waiting for some people. If you are not in decent shape, you could stress your heart significantly.

Read: Shoveling snow can put your heart at risk: Doctor shares what to watch out for

If you have chest discomfort or shortness of breath or even feel lightheaded, you should take a break and talk to your doctor about the problem.

Read: More Good Health coverage


About the Authors:

Dr. McGeorge can be seen on Local 4 News helping Metro Detroiters with health concerns when he isn't helping save lives in the emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.