Most of the time when we think about taking care of our personal health, things that come to mind are eating healthy, exercising, and getting enough rest. How many times do we include into our healthier lifestyle program the prevention of accidents? An accident can occur anytime in a split second and change our life forever.

It just takes one second to allow your mind to wander and not concentrate on your next step taken, the approaching ice covered sidewalk, or the uneven surface in your path ahead. A slip, trip or fall may be lurking around the corner just waiting for a personal encounter with you. If you are lucky you may walk away with just a bruise or sore body part, or you may end up receiving a life-changing serious accident.

Did you know that according to the U.S. Department of Labor, slips, trips and falls are accountable for 15 percent of all accidental deaths each year in the United States?

So what are some of the most common culprits that commonly assist in a slips, trips and falls?

• Wet/slippery surfaces, uneven surfaces, inclined or declined walking surfaces, showers, tubs, transition in height from one surface to the next, steps, poor footwear, clutter in pathways, and damaged ladders.

• The number one leading contributing element to winter slips, trips and falls is ice.

So what are some safety guidelines to follow that may assist in reducing the odds of having a slip, trip or fall and avoiding the possibility of an accident, injury or even worse, death?

• Always practice wearing appropriate footwear for changing weather conditions.

• Avoid ice if possible. Wear ice cleats if avoiding ice is not an option.

• Use non-skid strips in wet areas such as showers, tubs and wet floor areas.

• Place carpet mats in entrance doorways to absorb moisture and provide an area to wipe shoes clean.

• Avoid clutter in main walkways, especially on stairs.

• Assure good lighting in pathways of entrance or egress.

• Always be aware of surrounding area when walking.

• Make sure that when carrying an item(s); always be able to see your feet in front of you.

Always stay aware of surroundings and slow down your pace. Often being in a hurry clouds our safety thinking abilities. Take an extra second to glance ahead for conditions or obstacles that may cause a slip, trip or fall. An extra second taken may be all that is necessary to avoid a negative change in one’s health program.

Preventing an injury is as important as eating correctly, exercising and getting the correct amount of sleep. It just may even be more important. What do you think?

Jerry Trupka is the Risk Management Director at Siena Court, Benedictine Living Communities of Wahpeton.

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