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Protect yourself from falls this winter

Falling is a significant cause of serious injury, especially for older adults. As winter brings slick sidewalks and icy streets, the risk for slipping in public increases.

Keep these safety tips in mind to protect yourself from a fall injury this season.

Put the right shoes on

November is not the best time to run to the store in sandals. Wear sneakers or boots with rubber soles and plenty of traction whenever bad weather appears in the forecast, or keep a spare pair in your car for emergencies.

Take your time

Even a surface that looks safe could be slippery underneath. Proceed with caution, especially when stepping out of your home or vehicle. Alter your normal gait with a slower speed and legs spread slightly wider to create a solid base.

Stay in shape

Getting the right nutrients, especially vitamin D, can prevent falls by keeping bones and muscles healthy and strong. For the same reason, you should exercise for about 30 minutes a day if your doctor says it is safe for you to do so.

Know the risk factors

Take extra care if you or a family member has an elevated fall risk. Risk factors include advanced age, a history of falls, fear of falling, vision issues and chronic conditions, especially those that require multiple medications. Anyone who meets one or more risk factors should always carry a cell phone so they can call for help if necessary.

According to the Mayo Clinic, falls commonly result in broken bones and other debilitating orthopedic injuries. Traumatic brain injury may also occur. If you or a loved one suffers a fall at a business or at a public location, you may be able to seek legal damages for personal injury.

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