Sometimes you just have to know when to walk like a penguin, as unsightly as it may seem. It could save a lot of pain and misery.
With sub-freezing temperatures, black-ice parking lots and slick sidewalks a winter inevitability, it’s time. Yes, the best way to avoid a fall — and possible injury — is to walk like a penguin. Think about it. Spreading your feet outward increases your center of gravity. Extending your arms slightly increases your center of balance. Then take short, flat-footed steps. (Bending slightly also helps.)
Does it work? When was the last to you saw a penguin slip and fall?
More safety tips for navigating ice and snow on foot this winter:
- Use footwear with good treaded traction and insulation, says the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
- Traction cleats, like Yaktrax, that slip over your shoes or boots provide excellent grip on ice.
- Leave shoes and boots with smooth soles or heels at home.
- Wear gloves: They not only keep your hands warm, but also add some protection if you fall.
- Assume all wet or dark areas on pavement are icy and a potential fall hazard.
- Avoid carrying a heavy load. It can disrupt your balance.
- Don’t walk with your hands in your pockets. You’ll need both hands to break a possible fall.
- Walk in designated, cleared pathways. Don’t take shortcuts through snow or over frozen surfaces.
If you fall:
- If you have time to react, try not to fall on vulnerable areas like the wrists, knees, or spine. The side, with more flesh, will provide a better cushion and less possible harm.
- Lean forward as you go down.
- Need more cushion? Wear a bulky coat and layers.
- Relaxing your muscles as you fall can help minimize the injury.
- If you think you’re going to fall, get closer to the ground by bending your knees.