Lots of Falls occur in Parking Lots

parking lot framed

When my mom was in her mid 70s she fell face forward walking across a parking lot. She tripped on a crack. Her arms did not come out quickly enough to dampen the fall so she landed on her face. Her face was black and blue from the fall. It broke my heart to see her. It broke hers too. She recovered from the injuries but her nervousness about the experience led her to a less active life. Even more awful, at a high quality, popular fitness center several years ago not far from our home, a senior in her 60s was run over and killed in their parking lot.

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, Ilooked 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 places, for all of us, but especially for older adults.
• Sidewalk surfaces are usually better maintained. 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.

Here are several tips:

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:
1. 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.
2. Do not rush.
3. Walk where you can be seen. The center of the lane if possible.
4. Put a bright colored object on the front of your walker. No harm wearing a red jacket either.
5. Pull your abdominals in as you walk.
6. Pick your feet up as you walk.
7. 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.

This subject brings up the questions that inevitably arise when dealing with walking. Where do you look when you walk when the environment is so full of sidewalk cracks and tree roots and potholes? To answer some of those questions, last April, I posted a series of 3 articles on my Balance Blog:
Getting Suddenly Dizzy: Using the eyes to overcome disorientation.
Move Your Eyes, Not Your Head: Learn not to tilt your head.
Where should you look when you walk? Always look where you are going, while becoming more aware of your immediate environment.

About Vanessa: Vanessa Kettler is the creator, developer and producer ofBuilding Better Balance.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.

Click here to find out more about Building Better Balance.