Improve traction with ice cleats

When winter’s grip continues to hold, icy conditions can cause injury. To prevent a fall Chaffee County Public Health recommends ice cleats. 


Be careful, it’s still icy outside! Take a simple, inexpensive preventative step (pun intended) to increase your traction on snow and ice by investing in a pair of ice cleats. 

Ice cleats affix to a shoe or boot and have small spikes or coils underneath. 

According to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 million Americans are injured, and 17,000 people die as a result of slip and fall injuries every year. 

The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society reports: 

• Falling is the leading cause of accidental death, and the sixth leading cause of death in people older than 65. 

• Approximately 20 percent of falls in older people require emergency medical attention, 30-50 percent of these result in hospitalization, 5-10 percent in serious soft tissue damage, 3-5 percent in skeletal fracture, and 1-2 percent in hip fracture. 

• A fall precedes 90 percent of hip fractures and 25-40 percent of vertebral compression fractures. 

• If a person has low bone mineral density, the risk of hip fracture resulting from a fall increases by 300 percent .

Considerations for buying ice cleats depends on:

• Your physical capabilities and limitations, including your ability to bend over or use your hands that might make it difficult to put ice cleats on your footwear.

• Your activities while wearing ice cleats.

• Any extenuating circumstances, including icy stairs or living on a steep hill. 

A quality pair of ice cleats should have: 

• Aggressive, well-positioned studs that provide excellent traction on ice and remain effective in frigid temperatures. 

• Pull tabs so that you can use two hands to stretch the ice cleat over your footwear. 

• Dual density construction so the straps are thinner in non-wear areas and easier to stretch over footwear. 

• Self-cleaning treads to minimize snow and debris from building up on the bottom of your footwear that would prevent the studs from contacting the ice.

Other suggestions for safely using ice cleats include:

• Periodically inspect ice cleats to ensure that the studs are still intact. Replace any damaged or broken studs. 

• Walk with a normal gait and stride length while wearing.

• Remove ice cleats prior to going inside.

• When walking with ice cleats for exercise, also consider using hiking poles for additional safety and stability. Use of hiking poles can also improve posture, upper body strength, and calorie burning.

Ice cleats (ranging in price from $20-$60) and education on safe winter activities are available at many of our local retailers. 

Rebecca Rice is the community health program manager for Chaffee County Public Health.

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