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Winter health advice: Falls

Everyone is at risk for a fall, especially in slippery weather. Falling is a big cause of ending up in hospital and can result in serious injury.

There's no reason to restrict your activities away from home because you may be worried about falling, but it makes sense to take some simple precautions:

  • Take your time and don't rush. Scan the area for trip or slip hazards before walking
  • Carrying shopping bags can obstruct your view of the pavement; consider using a rucksack or cart instead (it's also better for your back)
  • Watch out for shop entrances with 'lipped' door frames, especially if you're stepping in out of the bright light
  • Watch out for subtle changes in gradient, especially near pedestrian crossings

"I've got heavy shoes with a knobbly tread! I won't slip up."

Thick treads are good in snow and mud, but won't be much help on ice. Make sure you keep an eye out for icy patches. Also, leave your outdoor shoes by the door so you don't make puddles in the house that you could slip on.

"I don't go out much during the winter, I'll be fine."

There are days when nobody likes to be out in the snow, wet and cold. Staying inactive for long periods of time, however, can quickly take its toll on your strength and endurance. Try to stay active throughout the winter months.

"I don't like to turn the heating up too high. I'll just put on more layers."

We all like to feel warm in the cold weather and cold weather slows our reactions, making us more likely to stumble. Be careful about bundling up excessively though. Extra layers mean extra weight, more things to trip over, and sometimes restrict our movements.

"I've got a street light right outside my window. I don't need to turn on too many lights."

The winter days are short and nights are long and dark. Make sure you have sufficient lighting to see clearly in your home.

"I don't like to go out in the winter because I have to take a bus. I'm unsteady on buses."

Nexus offers the Bridge Card as a way of communicating with all drivers that you may need more time to get seated or advance notice for your stop. You can get one at your local library, day centre or online at Nexus: Bridge Card.

Take control to get more out of life by being stronger, more flexible and steady on your feet.

This message comes from South Tyneside Public Health, South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust and Age Concern Tyneside South. The information is taken from the "Get Up and Go" booklet published by Saga, Public Health England, and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. You can download a free copy at South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust: Get Up and Go

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