Faulty Sidewalks

Today’s post comes from Barbara in Rivertown.

A couple of weeks ago our neighbor, while out walking her dog, went down on glare ice – that sort of fall where you are suddenly flat on your back staring at the sky, and don’t know how the he** you got there. This was worse than usual though, as she cracked her skull on the ice. Pamela actually passed out for a bit; there was a lot of bleeding, a trip to the ER, and a concussion. She’s almost back to normal now, but is taking an afternoon nap (which is tricky at work), and was told she must not hit her head again. Just saw her (carefully) walking the dog for the first time today.

Traveling on foot is particularly treacherous in this season, due to a lot of melting and freezing. And here in Winona, we keep getting a new dusting of snow, which is fine in some places but hides the ice in others. I fell last week after a concert, because of an uneven sidewalk that wasn’t really visible – “just” went down on my knees, but was OK mostly.

Have you had any really bad falls, either out- or indoors?

Got any tips for prevention?

78 thoughts on “Faulty Sidewalks”

  1. Hi, Yes it can be tricky maneuvering walking at this time of year! I live in MA and walk to work at 5:00 am every morning.
    The ice patches can be very dangerous…….it’s been awhile since I’ve fallen, and I have fallen hard…..
    I carry a quart container with me filled with sand and rock salt. When I come across an icy area I sprinkle some on it. This has been a great help for me on those early morning walks.
    Be careful out there!
    Eileen

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Eileen, welcome to the trail. Join us anytime. I love to hear that you are not only protecting yourself while walking but you’re paying it forward a little.

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  2. I haven’t taken a tumble where I hurt myself. I have witnessed several. One is especially noteworthy as it relates to barricades on construction sites. While working nights at a Fargo nursing home, a resident “wanderer” came through my work area, stepped in sticky glue and fell right beside me. I wasn’t able to react quick enough to break her fall. She died of a hematoma that night. Since then I have taken extra precautions to keep people safe around my work.

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    1. Oh Wes, I’m sure you felt terrible. I didn’t realize until my own tumble in 2012 how devastating falls can be, especially for older people.

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      1. Her family, the home staff and my employer were extraordinarily supportive. Although there were no lawsuits that developed, the insurance agent that deposed me was less than kind. It has taken years to forgive myself.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I understand. That nagging thought of what more could I have done to prevent it. At some point you just have to accept that no matter how much or little culpable you are, accidents do happen, forgive yourself, and move on.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Minnesotans mostly how to stay upright in winter. The key is “baby steps.” My Minnesota daughter went to college in Takoma, Washington. Most of her classmates had no experience with winter. One year it snowed four times. West coast kids were delighted to make their first snowmen. My daughter cringed behind the dorm windows as her classmates performed spectacular pratfalls on slick sidewalks. The Hawaiian kids had the most dramatic falls. Wearing shorts and sandals, they demonstrated the hazards of a long, athletic stride on icy sidewalks.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve been thinking of them as penguin steps this winter. We’ve had a couple of people go down here at work right outside the front door. And YA slipped and gashed her knee a couple of weeks ago while shoveling on the driveway. Trip to urgent care but luckily not bad enough for stitches.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. i broke my foot about 10 years ago in an ugly fall from up high

    i was talking to the guy who puts your foot in a boot until the swelling goes down and they can decide what to do and he asked if i knew i was putting myself in danger
    i said yeah i guess and he said 80% is the number of folks who know they are doing something dangerous
    walking the dog ain’t it but i think just staying focused instead of multitasking. walking and chewing gum may be ok but there is a point
    most recently i was doing warehouse stuff
    getting a box heavy box down from an odd location and was backing down an uneven footing trying to reach to hit the footing that would step me down and i went ass over teakettle and landed with the box in my arms on top of a 1galon anti freeze bottle
    it kind of broke my fall and also kind of broke my ribs. 3 chiropractor appts to get em back in place
    i hate it when that happens

    Liked by 3 people

      1. i was reminded when i was a kid i had never broiken anything but i had stitches on 5 or 6 seperate occasions on my head. i now have stitches on other parts of my body and cant claim no broken bones anymore.
        i do live a little harder than is a good idea sometimes. maybe ill slow down when i get old

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  5. Fall and Shine Baboons,

    I have taken a few spectacular falls. I now wear the attachable cleats available at any store which sells ice fishing equipment. The blessed cleats keep me upright.

    Cleats were not available in LaJolla, CA when I fell on a wet and slippery rock on the beach. Uffda. It was not evening snowing in 2013 when I walked the dog in our neighborhood and without warning, a light dusting of snow appeared from nowhere covering ice, and I fell breaking my elbow. OOOWWWIIIEEE.

    WHen my son was about 18 months old, I exited his day care, carrying him. Suddenly I was flat on my back with him carefully sheltered on top of me. The fall knocked the wind out of me and I laid there awhile waiting to breathe. He said, “Mommy, MOMMY. We fall down, go boom.”

    I did know that.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. And I want to point out, given the header photo, that this fall was gold medal worthy.

      Happy Valentines Day to my adored and much loved Baboons. I return to AZ later today for 6 more weeks of relentless sun.

      Liked by 3 people

  6. I managed to stay upright recently the two weeks I walked to and from work while the car was at the body shop. It was icy since the snow melted in the day and then froze froze at night. Baby steps were the key.

    It was quite warm here yesterday. The roads and streets were wet. Then the wind came up and there was ground blizzarding. The snow stuck to the roads and made them icy. Sigh. We just can’t win.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, I didn’t know this term before, Renee. From Wikipedia:
      Ground blizzard refers to a weather condition where loose snow or ice on the ground is lifted and blown by strong winds.[1] This can occur in the absence of precipitation, and can even occur when the sky is clear. This is in contrast to “ordinary” blizzards, which are accompanied by heavy falling snow. They can be especially dangerous as they occur after a winter storm has passed, when it is assumed that all forms of severe winter weather has ended.[2]

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      1. we went to northdakota often when i was a kid. often in winter and the interesting thing about a ground storm is that the height is not all that high. if you hit a semi going down the highway get behind him and hang on tight. he can see fine. he is above the snow blowing. the only problem is he gets off somewhere and then you find out where you are. thats why the roads out in the flatlands are often raised up above the ditches . so the snow has to raise up to cross the highway otherwise it would be a straight wind and drifting would be a bigger challange the dip in the contour would help with the airflow.
        today with gps you could do it and know if the town you want to get off at is coming but back in the days of the station wagon with the kids seat in the way back we used to fly along in a white womb across the plains for a fair number of trips. we used to travel different ways just to break up the monotony. the old rand mcnalley telling you if the road would be going through st cloud or new york mills , the ways to get to any one spot are broadened widely if the freeway is taken out of the equation. we stopped almost never at restaurants. mcdonalds and the spot for burgers and fires was a 1 hour layover with kids squirming and parents knawing their knuckles wishing the damn food would get here. we would do car games like the white car is worth 5 points the red one 25 the brown one 4 points and then the next car was your turn and then everyone got a turn and next time you hoped for the red car … abc’s on the road signs and bilboards and store fronts. 8 hours minneapolis to fargo back in pre freeway days through all the little towns. the snow falling so hard the headlights were blocked form going out to far. my dad would show why you dont turn on the brights ( you cant see anything) then he would say you might as well shut them off and he would shut off the headlights for two seconds and make me shreik. we were often the awake ones with everyone else sleeping on the long sojourn. but when we got to fargo there was candy on top of jb’s refrigerator and cousins in the morning. best ever….

        Liked by 3 people

  7. It’s the thin refreeze on sidewalks that does me in. And it’s usually very fast, so no flailing about, just zip/boom/ow.

    No real damage, just a long lasting ow. I’m never sure if Iwould rather someone was around (just in case) or not (dignity preserved).

    Worked with a woman who lost months of work when she slipped and broke a wrist. Fear of that keeps my skates in a box in the basement. Someday…

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I once tripped in Uptown Mpls on an uneven sidewalk in July. I was going at a pretty good clip, and what saved me was I tucked my head and shoulders under and did a roll. Got up, brushed myself off, and passed a woman who said “Nice roll!” I mentally thanked my 9-year-old son, whom I’d been watching do that move in play…

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I don’t remember any such falls myself, but my sister had a nasty fall. It was in spring and she lives in Waukesha, WI. The weather was changeable and just as she was taking off her sweater, she tripped on a very uneven sidewalk. With her arms stuck in the sweater, she landed on her elbows and broke both of them. Yikes! I felt so bad for her. She had to stay home from work for a couple weeks and I think my oldest sister stayed with her a for a bit to help her out.
    Best way to walk in winter is the “Minnesota Shuffle” as Garrison Keillor said. Hunched over, head down, lower your center of gravity and shuffle carefully along.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I just learned that the lovely woman who transcribes my evaluation reports slipoed on the ice and fell in our parking lot yesterday and busted up her knee. She may be out for a while. Drat!

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  11. Like most everyone else, I have had my share of more or less spectacular falls. Uneven sidewalks or icy spots on the pavement have usually figured in the mix, as have inattention to the task at hand – walking. That was all prior to the pretty devastating fall I took as I was rushing to the bathroom in the middle of the night in late February, 2012. The fall resulted in three fractures that landed me in the hospital 5 days and 30 days in a rehab facility after that. It pretty much put me out of commission for months. It was pretty sobering to see the warning “fall risk” attached to the wheel chair I had to use for a month. “Fall risk” makes it sound as if you’re tottering around, unsteady on your feet, and that was not how I perceive myself. And yet, considering where and how I fell, I was lucky. Had I hit my head on the old iron claw foot tub, I might have sustained a traumatic head injury – or worse.

    Now that I realize how quickly everything can change, I pay close attention to the sidewalk, watch for small steps up or down, as well as icy spots that may not be all that obvious. I want to avoid another fall if at all possible. Falls can have devastating results. They are the leading cause of fatal injury and are the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related admissions to hospitals among older adults.

    Tips for prevention: pay attention. Vision problems are often contributing factors to falls, so make sure your glasses are up to date. Also, be aware that many medications, including over the counter drugs, may cause dizziness. Vitamin D deficiency is also a common factor, as are lower body weakness and poor balance, so do those exercises.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Sister Cleo and I shared the trait of always moving at high speed, often to the detriment of our bodies, but just cuts and bruises. I have slowed to a crawl. She has slowed a bit. 15 years ago she and power walking friend Carmen were walking in Brookings, some snow and ice around. The did not see a patch of hidden ice. Cleo went down hard and shattered left wrist. They send her to Sioux Falls to have wrist pinned. Intern injected Novocaine before they injected local. But he put it in her vein. She went into heavy seizures, almost fell off table, arrested breathing, heart arrhythmia. It took awhile for them to get her back to normal, so they put off operation for 24 hours. It went fine. She has some OA in it but not bad.
    So after the surgery was done they waited another day and did a MRI of her brain to see if she was alright. The images showed a tumor near her brain stem, which otherwise would not have been caught until it was perhaps too late. It did not appear to be malignant and has not proven to be so. But they had to control the size, which they do by giving her once a month an expensive pill, as well as an MRI every 6 months to check on it. It has shrunk a little and stays at that size. It has no effect on her.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. So true. In 1959 my father asked for a long overdue raise. He got, instead, a devastating rejection and insult. Worst thing to have happened to our family at the time. That led him to leave Iowa to start his own company in Minnesota. Best thing he ever did. Then in the 1970s his chief investor humiliated him and beat him up with demands he relinquish presidency of the company he had built. Worst thing that ever happened to him. But the contract used to force him out did two things: made him rich (or relatively so) and motivated him to retire and enjoy life. Best thing that could have happened.

        Liked by 3 people

  13. HI Kids–
    Be careful out there. 39 degrees and sunny here today. Watch out for the refreeze tonight. And more possible snow tomorrow to cover it all up.

    We never realize how un-flat our yard is until it’s coated in ice. It’s all downhill. Everywhere else is downhill from where-ever you are. Until you’re trying to get back; then it’s all uphill.
    Down hill to the house and garage. Down hill to the chickens and feed room. Downhill from the feed room back to the chickens. Uphill back to the house.
    Small steps, Look for patches of grass or gravel. Keep your hands out of your pockets.

    With my foot / leg issues, I trip often. In 7th grade I tripped on the steps in school and fell down, cracking a bone in my wrist. That was before I hurt my leg so, it was just clumsiness.
    My best falling story was falling off a step stool while holding a can of stain. I wobbled for a couple seconds, fell back, coated myself, the floor and a few other things with stain. Kelly witnessed the whole thing and managed to ask if I was OK before she got the giggles.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That last story reminds me of a childhood memory. Mom had just made a a bowlful of rødgrød, and put it in a nice glass bowl. I must have been about seven years old at the time. She gave me the bowl, and asked me to bring it downstairs to the root cellar to cool. The stairs to the basement were two sets of stairs. First three or four steps down to a landing; from there the steps descended at a 90º angle to the shorter stairs, about 12 steps to the basement. Holding the bowl up in front of me with both hands so that I could see the stairs below, I made it to the landing unscathed. But somehow I missed the first step on the longer stairway. Determined not to break my mom’s pretty glass bowl, and in the process spilling warm rødgrød all over myself, I continued to hold the bowl in front of me and above head as I bounced on my butt the rest of the way down. My dad and uncle Leo were in the basement, waxing skis, when they saw me bouncing down the stairs. They both cracked up, but quickly realized I was hurt, and set out to salvage the bowl of rødgrød and comfort me. That fall probably was the initial cause of the arthritis in my lower spine that plagues me today.

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        1. Nope, a completely different beast.

          Rødgrød, which means red porridge, is a Danish dessert made from cherries, raspberries, and/or rhubarb, or any combination of them. It’s thickened with cornstarch or potato flour. It’s served chilled with cream. Det Danish word for cream is fløde, so this particular dessert “rødgrød med fløde” is the phrase Danes like to make foreigners say. In addition to the two retroflex r’s, three ø’s, the four soft d’s, sounds that don’t exist in some other languages, this phrase is difficult to pronounce for a lot of non-Danish speakers.

          Liked by 2 people

        1. Yep. If memory serves, I think Lisa brought some homemade rødgrød to my “garden party.” The event where a group of baboons congregated on my garden to whip it into shape following my fall. Robin, Bill, Sherrilee, Barb, Linda, Steve, Edith, Krista, and Lisa in her long green dress, all were there. A fun group of good-hearted worker bees. I’m still grateful.

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    2. Our farm was on the side of a rather steep hill. great for sliding. house back porch was as high was the hay mow door and they were only about 35 yards apart. Road to farm was up and over a steep hill. Great for sliding.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Our driveway used to be great for sliding. Back when the snow blowers weren’t so good that we always had a coating of snow with no gravel showing. And the old rail sleds. I could go way up the road above the house and get a run. It was kind of a long, gently sloping ‘S’ curve. Around the first part of the S, hit the banked curve of the next curve and around the house and all the way down to the barn. Seriously, it was like 400 yards.
        Course once the road got that slippery, the old rear wheel drive cars had trouble getting out. If we weren’t in the back seat “Sitting Heavy!”, Dad would spread manure on the road for traction. It worked wonders. But it was harder to steer the sled around the manure.
        And Manure spreaders changed too. In the ‘older days’, they put out a nice even pattern. Then a new spreader kinda made ‘clumps’. Not nearly as useful. And if you hit one with the car before it was fully froze, you spread it on the car as well as part way up the road.
        Course once froze, it a was a good BUMP.

        Liked by 5 people

        1. I can top the distance, when conditions were right. Top of road above our house, between house and garage, down past barn, past machine shed, around windbread of tress, down into field, down to bottoms m of hayfield. About 3/8 of a mile , bit more. But we seldom did it. Just too long for fun.

          Liked by 3 people

  14. I’ve had several almost-falls but the most recent probably looked terribly funny but I wasn’t hurt at all. It was two years ago. I was walking to the bus stop to take the bus to school. I knew the sidewalk had patches of ice, but we had just had a dusting of snow so I couldn’t see where the ice was. Stepped on a nice smooth patch of ice with a covering of fluffy snow and there I was lying flat on my back. It happened so fast I didn’t have time to try to break my fall, which was probably good. And my back was protected by my backpack which had my notebook, pens, phone, and my camera in it. I lay there for a couple seconds to make sure I wasn’t hurt, then got up carefully and kept on. Didn’t miss my bus, either. And the camera was fine.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I didn’t see this poor guy fall but saw the aftermath. He was a salesman for Bobcat. Sharp dresser. Really expensive suit. Came right through our taped off area, slipped and slid in our glue. He must have been quite the jerk because his workmates ridiculed him so badly that he took the sales position in Australia. Apparently he didn’t want to go but the staff thanked us for helping get rid of him.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. I fall so often…so far without major harm. One fall, mid-July, mid-town Duluth, right on my face. I looked like a troll hag for weeks as the blood pooled around my eyes and cheeks. I spent one winter years ago jumping off the haystack to practice rolling when hitting the ground as we were taught to do when coming off a horse. Muscle memory didn’t stick, but so far when I fall I don’t try to protect myself with my hands or elbows…and just hit. My latest fall was last week when one of the horses kicked me and I fell. The week before I fell through the ice on my river…does that count?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sheesh, woman, I hope you carry some sort of personal alarm so that you can call for help if you get hurt when you’re alone. You’re no young whippersnapper anymore.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I admit I sometimes forget to take my cell phone to the barn. And it is true, the horse kick could have been a broken leg or worse…and the dip in the river could have been hypothermia…I do worry my luck may be waning. So I am learning caution.

          Liked by 2 people

  17. I have fallen several times on ice but never been seriously hurt (except my pride, if witnessed). My worst fall was 17 months ago while learning to play pickle ball in Texas. I was running laterally and doing what most PE teachers will tell you never to do when running laterally – cross one foot in front of the other. I lost my balance and had nothing to grab onto so I landed hard on my left hip on the asphalt. Ended up with a fractured femur – considered a hip fracture due to the location. I had a big rod and three large bolts placed to hold everything together. Using a walker for 6 weeks was misery – followed by about 6 months of using a hiking stick most of the time. It was nearly a year before I was back to my normal gait and walking speed. Now the hardware is causing some issues and needs to be removed. The surgeon won’t do it until the snow and ice are gone – too great a risk of falling while the healing takes place. Needless to say, my pickle ball career was very short lived. And I have become very cautious around ice.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. I did a face plant once in someone’s garden by tripping over a wire that was part of the electric fence to keep the dogs from getting loose. I landed face down in landscape rock. I was kind of surprised that I didn’t break a tooth or something. I was just bruised. The thing that really hurt, though, was that I started to put my hands in front of me to break my fall, and didn’t have time. I ended up with my arms up and my shoulders forced abruptly back by the impact. My shoulders were really sore for a few days.

    I was very lucky.

    My mother once slipped on the ice and broke a wrist. She was always afraid of falling after that. As with many elderly people, the fear is of suddenly ending up in a nursing home for life after a serious fall. The wrist was bad enough, but it could have been worse.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. This isn’t really a slipping story but Clyde’s comment about the good sliding hill reminded me. When I was a very young married, wasband and I took a huge piece of carboard and headed down two blocks down to Lyndale Farmstead park which has a great sliding hill. We did this at 10:00 at night. We slid down together several times but on our last pass, we hit a little hill that we didn’t see in the dark and went tumbling. We were never sure if it was his knee or elbow that gave me the huge shiner, but it took over a week to fade and EVERYONE was concerned that he was beating me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A good shiner gets you lots of attention. Reminds me of falling off, or perhaps more accurately, being ejected from a teeter-totter and landing, nose first, on the iron pipe in the middle. It hurt just to look at me.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. my first wife was 7 1/2 months pregnant with kid#2
    i was off to china at 6 am so i shoveled the sidewalk down to bare concrete on front steps and sidewalk. clean as a whistle. i left and she went out to get the paper and slipped on the glare ice. twisted to protect the baby on the fall
    broke the leg both bones down low
    i got word as my plane landed in china
    i should have left the sidewalk so it would not have been so smooth
    that’s the moral
    don’t shovel too clean. or carry a quart of sand/salt like our newbie started us off with

    wife and son took the dogs out tonight said it was real slippery where it melted and refrozen

    there’s bens warning

    Liked by 1 person

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