Friday 18 October 2019

Preventing winter accidents

Patrick Hynes Patrick Hynes is an occupational therapist at Sensational Kids, a registered charity that provides family centred therapy and educational services for children of all abilities in a state- of- the- art, one- of- a- kind occupational therapy

The most obvious winter accidents include slips and falls on ice and snow. But it is important to remember that even when it is raining here in Ireland, the footpaths can be extremely slippery and slips and falls can happen easily even when there is no ice or snow.

Indoor wet floors have the potential for falls also. There are many activities that we tend to engage in during winter, especially if there is snow. Ice- covered lakes, ponds and rivers look so inviting to skate on but again are very dangerous.

Children or adults should never go onto these as it is not possible to gauge the thickness of the ice and there is a constant risk of the ice cracking. Do not allow children to follow dogs or family pets that may wander onto ice.

Snow and ice bring out the child in all of us, including in children themselves. Activities such as tobogganing and skating on ice are very tempting but leave potential for accidents.

Within the home there are often cables and flexes trailing on the floor with the additional Christmas lights and heaters that are in use. These can cause trips and falls.

Open fires can be delightful to look at but have the potential to be very dangerous ( especially for young children) if they are not supervised. ensure that children do not stand too close to the fire in case their clothes catch fire.


When children are playing outside, set reasonable time limits so as to prevent them getting too cold, or in extreme cases experiencing hypothermia or frostbite. Supervise play such as tobogganing, and ensure that children are well wrapped up, wearing additional padding. Sometimes it may be a better option to go to an ice- skating rink to skate in as opposed to trying it in the natural outdoors.

Dress properly for the cold and wet weather. Infants and children should be dressed warmly for outdoor activities. Dress older babies and young children with one more layer of clothing than an adult would in the same conditions. While your hands might be cold, don't put them in your pockets when you are walking on ice or snow. If you slip, you will need your arms to restore balance. If you fall, they will help you break your fall and land safely. Wear gloves to keep your hands warm instead of putting them in your pockets.

Wear proper footwear. A good pair of boots with grips will give you traction when walking and will keep your feet warm. If you want to wear heels or other kinds of shoes, simply carry an extra pair with you to change into when indoors. It is particularly important to have good footwear when you are carrying your child or taking your child out of the car seat in your car. If there is snow or ice, try to park where the snow has been cleared and the ice gritted in order to have a less icy place for walking.

If you think you are approaching a particularly slippery area of snow or ice, don't be afraid to explore the area with your toe to see how slippery it is before you put your full weight on the area. It is much better to be safe than sorry.

Don't carry large loads while walking on snow or ice. Divide the load where possible even if it means making a few trips to and from the shop or car. If you are carrying a load and feel yourself falling on the ice, drop the items so that you can break your fall with your arms.

Take small careful steps instead of large ones. When getting out of a vehicle, step out – don't jump. When possible, use handrails or the fence – anything that will help you keep your balance. Never run on slippery or icy surfaces. Place non- slip mats on the floor to prevent slips on indoor floors.

ensure that electrical sockets are not overloaded as this can potentially be a fire hazard. Cover trailing electrical cables with a non- slip mat or tuck them behind furniture or along by the wall to reduce the risk of trips and falls.

The main message is to be careful during the winter season, but have fun!

Mother & Babies

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