LOTS OF FALLS HAPPEN IN PARKING LOTS
4 years ago I had a bad fall too walking on a cobblestone parking lot. I was going from my car to the front door, someone called my name, I looked away and DID NOT STOP MOVING, therefore didn’t see the pothole coming up, tripped and fell and injured my knee.
Parking lots are dangerous for us all, but especially for older adults.
- Sidewalk surfaces are usually maintained better than the parking lot itself. Parking lot surfaces are often full of hazardous cracks, stones and potholes, not to mention moving cars.
- Often there are no pedestrian walkways and one has to walk through the parking lot itself to get from the car to the building entrance.
- Parking lots are dangerous for drivers. They are frequently the site for fender benders. Anyone driving is probably more likely to get into an accident in a parking lot than anywhere else because of how the lots are designed with cars often parked at every which angle.
- Walk on sidewalks whenever possible, even if it means taking a longer route because they are by definition designed to be safer. Of course use good sense in always choosing the safest path.
If you have to walk in a parking lot:
- See if anyone is sitting in the driver seat of the cars you are about to walk behind, a better way to gage whether a car is about to back up.
- Do not rush.
- Walk where you can be seen. The center of the lane if possible. Do not walk close to the back of the cars.
- Put a bright colored object on the front of your walker. No harm wearing a red jacket either.
- Pull your abdominals in as you walk.
- Pick your feet up as you walk.
- ALWAYS LOOK WHERE YOU ARE GOING. If your body is moving forward, make sure that you keep your eyes looking forward. If you need to take your eyes off of your direction, stop moving. Only move when your can be completely aware of what is in front of you.
Where to look when you walk:
Walking is similar to driving. When you drive a car you need to look at 2 different places at the same time. You have to be aware of what is directly in front of you and you have to know what is coming down the road far ahead. With walking, you need to look in 2 places at the same time too: you have to be aware of hazards under foot and be looking far ahead to where it is you are heading. Becoming aware of hazards nearby without looking at them is the issue we all face. Check the conditions before you start out so you know what to avoid. Use your peripheral vision to keep aware as you are moving.
The brain thinks that the body wants to go where the eyes are looking. If you look close to your feet, the brain thinks the body wants to go there and it takes much stabilization from the other senses in the body to keep you upright. It ends up throwing your balance off. I am particularly aware of this issue recently as my wonderful but frail mother-in-law is living with us. As I help her walk around the house, her shakiness is incredibly affected if she looks down. Not nearly so when she looks straight ahead.
Learn how to walk much more easily and in the process no longer shuffle your feet, dramatically reducing the likelihood that you will fall. Building Better Balance is a DVD based series of balance classes that teach you how to prevent having falls by improving your balance. The second in the series Legs & Feet: Walking Made Easier shows you how to walk properly and in the process makes your legs feel far lighter and easier to lift while eradicating the bad habit of foot shuffling.