Safety Outdoors

Going outdoors and getting some air can do wonders for your overall sense of well-being. The tips in the article below will help keep you safe when you go outdoors, no matter the season.

  • Stairs and pathways should be in good repair and have good traction. If possible, have a textured surface on them to reduce the risk of slipping.
  • The stairs and your pathway should be free of clutter such as snow or leaves.
  • Stairs should be equipped with railings that run from the top to the bottom of the steps.
  • Take your time when going up and down the stairs. Always use the railing.
  • Have proper lighting at all entrances. If possible, have a light that comes on automatically when you approach the entrance.
  • Ensure your mailbox is at a place where it is easily accessible.
  • Arrange that your doorways have low sills.
  • Place a chair near the entrance so you can sit when putting on or taking off your shoes/boots.
  • Wear boots or shoes with anti-skid soles.
  • Use a cane or a walker to help you walk more steadily. (Always change the rubber tip of your cane if it is worn out.)
  • Avoid walking outside with your hands in your pockets or with packages in your hands, as it can affect your balance.
  • Give yourself enough time to get where you are going so you don’t have to rush.
  • Check where you are walking outside, as not all pathways are always in good condition.
  • Ask a friend/family member or a neighbour to come with you when possible.
  • Carry a cell phone and a whistle in your pocket for emergencies, especially when walking alone.
  • Carry a flashlight with you in the dark.
  • Always carry your personal information with you, including a list of medication you take and medication you might be allergic to.
  • The number of your house should be clearly visible from the street and well-lit at night. If you live in a rural area, arrange for your name to be on your mailbox. Also, make sure your civic number is visible at the end of your driveway (clear of snow and branches).


Winter safety

  • Put salt, sand or non-clumping cat litter on walkways and stairs to keep them free of ice.
  • Consider carrying a small bag of salt in your pocket to spread on icy patches when you are walking outside.
  • Wear sturdy boots that have a deep tread and fit well.
  • Try ice-grippers on your boots for better traction on icy and snow-packed surfaces, but make sure to remove them when walking on smooth surfaces such as tiles or ceramic areas.
  • Consider using a walking aid with ice prongs or a ski pole. (You can install an ice pick on your cane; remember to remove it when you get inside.)
  • Choose less bulky clothing so you can still move easily.
  • Consider wearing sunglasses and a visor to reduce the glare of the sun on the snow.
  • On icy surfaces, take small flat-footed steps.
  • Always check where you are walking outside, as pathways may not be properly cleared of snow and ice.
  • If the weather gets bad, take a taxi. It is not worth the risk.

For more information on preventing falls, please see You CAN Prevent Falls.

The content in the winter safety section was adapted from:

  • Public Health Agency of Canada/You CAN Prevent Falls!
  • Stand Up! Falls Prevention Program
  • Ontario Seniors’ Secretariat Falls Prevention/Gov. of Ontario