Taming the Dangerous Passage - Safely Entering and Exiting a Vehicle During Winter Weather

Person exiting vehicle in snowy conditions

I lay on the cold, snowy parking lot next to my vehicle, my right shoulder throbbing where it hit the doorframe as I fell. My left knee is starting to hurt, and the voice in my head says, “You knew it was going to be slippery.”

Along with cold, snow and ice, winter’s arrival also brings a rash of slip and fall injuries. Many of these injuries, including the one described above, occur while entering and exiting a vehicle. Fortunately, most can be prevented. Here are some common-sense tips.

Prepare not to fall

  1. Plan ahead. Wear proper footwear for the conditions.
  2. Choose your parking place carefully. Look for parking spaces with little or no snow and ice. These may not be the closest but will provide a safer alternative.
  3. Think! We all get in and out of a vehicle so frequently that the action becomes automatic. Unfortunately, doing so without conscious thought may land you on the pavement. Be aware of the conditions and proceed appropriately.

Exiting the vehicle

  1. Open the door. Turn 90 degrees, look at the condition of pavement, then place both feet on the ground. Do not swing your left foot out and place your full weight on it before assessing the surface.
  2. Do the shuffle. While you are still sitting, test the slipperiness of the surface by shuffling your feet back and forth on it.
  3. Brace yourself. Use the door frame to brace yourself as you stand up. Ensure you have a firm footing, then concentrate on pushing straight down with your feet as you stand. Do not apply force at an angle.
  4. Just you. If you have boxes, packages, or other items, exit the vehicle first, then retrieve them once you have a firm, stable footing.

Entering the vehicle

  1. Approach carefully. Snow often can drift between vehicles, or ice and snow can melt and then refreeze as black ice.
  2. Open the door. Once the door is open, turn so your backside faces the seat.
  3. Sit down. With both feet still on the ground, sit down as if sitting in a chair. Use the door frame to steady yourself as you descend. Swivel your feet into the vehicle -- and drive your unfallen self away.

Please stay safe this winter! The links and resources below provide additional information on avoiding winter falls:

MEMIC policy holders can access the following resources on MEMIC safety director.

  • MEMIC Safety Minute – Vehicle Entry and Egress – Winter
  • MEMIC Safety Alert: Winter Safety
  • Slip Trip and Fall – Stay SAFE from the Winter Slip and Fall

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