Slipping is the most common accident for pedestrians in winter. Falls can be prevented by being vigilant, wearing suitable footwear and anti-slip accessories, and well maintained walkways.
Fall and slip accidents are common in Finland, especially in winter weather. According to the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), each year on average 4,600 patients end up in inpatient care due to slip accidents, and a further 11,000 patients require outpatient care. According to THL, inpatient care of patients who have had a slip accident in winter costs society approximately €18 million each year. There are also costs to employers when an employee has to take time off after an accident.
Slip accidents happen to people of all ages. Anyone can slip – even motorists walk part of their journeys. Injuries caused by falls are usually more serious for older people, as their bodies are more fragile and less able to withstand the impact. Fall accidents are not recorded as traffic accidents.
Footwear to match weather
For pedestrians, the most dangerous weather conditions are those where dry snow falls on icy ground or when the top layer of ice has melted and created a film of water. Appropriate footwear reduces the risk of slipping. When buying winter footwear, make sure that the sole is made of soft porous material and has a deep tread. The safest tread pattern is open from the sides and has grooves which widen downwards and are 5–8 mm deep.
The best grip is provided by a low and wide heel.
Anti-slip accessories improve grip
Anti-slip accessories are good for preventing falls, and they are especially useful in slippery conditions. Choose anti-slip accessories which are type-approved and certified personal protective equipment (CE-marked). There are many different models on the market to match different needs. Some are attached to the footwear permanently and some can be easily removed. When shopping for anti-slip accessories, bring with you the shoes in which you mostly intend to use them.
Good anti-slip accessories
- stay firmly in place,
- are the right size so that the studs have proper contact with the ground,
- do not restrict movement too much,
- can be removed easily if necessary. On smooth and hard surfaces such as stone floors, anti-slip accessories can increase the risk of accidents.
Walking sticks and poles and kick sleds are handy supports in slippery conditions. Friction or traction shoes are a good choice for people who do a lot of walking indoors.
Good balance helps
Good balance helps avoid falls. Good core and lower limb muscles contribute to good balance. Balance can be developed with regular exercise and hobbies such as dancing or tai chi.
Reserve enough time for your journeys. Focus on walking, not on your phone.