Dangerous pavement warnings: how to stay safe on icy streets

Thousands of us fall over on slippery pavements every winter, but there's steps you can take to reduce the risk.

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File picture of people walking on icy pavements during winter / Credit: News Now Finland

The Finnish Meteorological Institute FMI has issued a warning about dangerous conditions for pedestrians on pavements in the south of the country over the next few days.

It happens when temperatures warm up a little, snow or ice melts, and then the water freezes again when temperatures drop overnight.

And it seems like many of us slip up during the winter. According to the ‘Stay Upright’ campaign Kotitapaturma, 38% of us fall during winter and 27% of those people hurt themselves when they took a tumble on slippery surfaces.

Most people who fall are aged under 30, but medical care is needed most by people aged 50 to 60 and the risk of hip fracture or other serious injury increases at the age of 70.

The campaign lists seven ways to guard against falling on treacherous pavements:

  1. Choose good footwear – high heel shoes, or shoes with flat soles are the most dangerous. Choose a pair instead that has a good grip, wide sole, and flexible as well.

2. Use anti-slip devices – this extra level of grip fits over your boots and has little spikes on the bottom to dig into ice and snow.

3. Allow time to walk – give yourself extra time to get to your destination when the pavements are slippery, if you’re running for the bus it’s going to increase the risk of an accident.

4. Check the roads – look at the weather forecast before you go outside, check the condition of the pavements near home or work, and prepare accordingly.

5. Give feedback – if the roads or yard at home or work is not being gritted or salted, then inform someone like the management company or local council so they can come and put some extra protection down.

6. Take care of your own condition – if you’re in shape, and have a strong core, you’re less likely to fall over than someone who doesn’t go out much or do much walking. Alcohol also impairs judgment and makes it more likely you could fall over on the pavement.

7. Focus on walking – you should focus on the path ahead of you, and taking measured steps, watching out for areas that have not been gritted or which look extra slippery. So don’t walk and look at your phone at the same time!