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'Walk like a penguin': Expert's advice if you go out in snow and ice


(Stock picture)

(Stock picture)

(Stock picture)

Pedestrians who want to reduce their risk of a slip or fall on treacherous icy footpaths should walk like a penguin, experts advise.

Spreading feet out slightly while walking on ice increases the centre of gravity. And try to bend slightly and walk with short, flat-footed steps.

Orthopaedic surgeon Peter O’Rourke, of Letterkenny Hospital, said today that hip and wrist fractures are common in heavy snow conditions.

"In 1982, during the heavy snowfalls, in the hospital I worked in we had 65-69 wrist fractures and 29 hip fractures in the space of a few days," he said.

It is mainly hips and wrist fractures in older people, while younger patients tend to break their ankle, he added.

He warned about the need for supportive laced-up shoes that can grip the ice.

Other basic safety tips include:

  • Look ahead when your walk;
  • Walk in someone else’s footsteps;
  • Always wait to cross at pedestrian crossings;
  • Don’t impede your vision with hoods and scarves and keep your hands out of your pockets;
  • Remember the most dangerous areas can be the doorstep outside your front door or the slippery path as you get out of the car;
  • If you feel yourself slipping backwards tuck your head forward, chin to chest;
  • If you fall to the side, allow your forearm to make contact with the ground first rather than your wrist.

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