Slipping and falling on ice can cause serious, even fatal, head and bone injuries. Walking is not usually a treacherous activity so it can be easy for people to become overly confident when moving across ice and snow. When temperatures are dropping, keep all of these tips in mind to avoid slipping on ice.

What to wear

Wear appropriate shoes with good traction. Rubber-soled shoes or boots with deep grooves are usually the safest options. Avoid wearing shoes with a heel or leather soles. If you aren’t confident that your shoes have enough traction to keep you from slipping, you can purchase ice grips that fit over your boots. Consumer Reports tried out several pairs in this video. Periodically stamp your footwear on the ground to prevent snow from becoming packed into the grooves.

How to walk

Walk like a penguin. Penguins are the experts at walking on ice and should be imitated. Waddle across the ice by keeping your feet as flat as possible and centering your weight across the surface of your foot. Your front foot should support a little bit more weight than your back foot. Move slowly and take small steps with your knees slightly bent. Carrying items or putting your hands in your pockets are both risk factors for slipping. Keep your arms free so they can do their job in helping you stay balanced.

Always Keep a heads up

Pay attention to your surroundings. There are signs in the environment that can help you determine if a surface is too dangerous to walk across. Packed snow or ice that is in a shady area could be slicker than what is in the sun. Beware of an explosive hazard known as black ice. Black ice is a thin layer of transparent ice that may be mistaken for a wet surface. You can also check your surroundings for balance aids, such as handrails and walking sticks.

Even if you take all of these precautions, there is still a chance you could slip. When walking in dangerous conditions, it is always a good idea to keep a cell phone handy. If you do move on the ice and injure yourself, you can then call a friend or 9-1-1 for help.

Always get help

Some falls require quick trips to the emergency room. Others appear less dangerous, and may not need immediate medical attention. Either way, you should never ignore any pain or swelling that results from a fall on the ice. Visit urgent care for an x-ray if you experience any of the following symptoms.

  • You can’t put weight on an injured foot or leg.
  • You can visibly see that part of your body is deformed from a fracture.
  • You are already at a higher risk for bone injuries due to age or a medical condition.
  • You are experiencing intense pain.
  • You can’t move an injured body part.

Keep in mind, urgent care centers may be busy during icy weather. There are a few things you can preemptively do to make sure an urgent care visit is a good experience. Make sure you know where nearby urgent care centers are located and whether or not your insurance provider will cover your stay. Also, try to have to keep a copy of medical records with you in case you need to share them with a physician after a fall unexpectedly.

If possible, the best way to avoid slipping during dangerously icy conditions is to stay indoors only.