Winter in northern Minnesota can last up to six months or more and can be a contributing factor for injury or death resulting from a fall. Here are tips to move more confidently and help maintain balance during the winter season.

Good footwear is a top priority. Choose shoes/boots with robust tread. Ice/snow grippers can provide additional traction. When walking, take short steps with toes pointed slightly outward, like a penguin. This provides a more stable base of support. Keep hands out of pockets as it changes one’s balance and increases the risk of broken bones if a fall does occur.

Keep home walkways/driveways clear of snow and ice. Spread sand near the home entryway for additional grip/friction or use ice melt products. Thin sheets of ice may appear as wet pavement (black ice), so plan for the unexpected and keep a plastic bag/shaker jar with sand in the car.

Choose walking paths that are well-lit and clear of snow and ice. Don’t rush. Plan ahead and take the extra time needed to be safe. Use handrails whenever possible. A ski pole or walking stick can provide additional balance support. Keep a cell phone accessible to call for help if needed.

“Who Do You Call if You Fall?” Call 911. The Cass County Sheriff’s Dept. will provide a lift assist without charge. And they will determine if an ambulance is needed should the fall be serious with a potential injury.

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The Fifth Annual Cass County Falls Prevention Health Fair continues on the LiveHealthy website. We hope the various articles and tips are helpful and have increased awareness so that a fall may be prevented. Word search puzzles will be available at the following locations through the end of October: Faith in Action, Hackensack; Lori Luv’s, Longville; Cass County Health Human Veteran Services, Walker; the Pine River - Backus Family Center and the Northland Family Service Center in Remer.

For more falls prevention information go to the Cass County Live Healthy website for articles and videos: www.co.cass.mn.us/livehealthy/falls_prevention.php.

A serious fall and injury can be avoided. Be smart. Keep active and strong. Enjoy life to its fullest. Remember who to call after a fall; 911 Lift Assist.