Keep out of the hospital by keeping your feet beneath you

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MARYLAND HEIGHTS, MO (KTVI) – Go slow and steady and walk like a penguin if you absolutely have to go outside in these icy conditions, say doctors and nurses at DePaul Hospital in Bridgeton.

They recommend spreading your feet about a foot apart, bending your knees, and doing a slow shuffle. It’s also recommended you not carry anything and extend your arms out to your sides to keep your balance. And don't forget boots or shoes that provide traction, so you don't wind up in traction in a hospital.

Mercy Hospital in West County is taking precautions and getting cots, fresh linens, toiletries ready for nurses and doctors working long hours Friday.

Many emergency rooms around the region were getting ready for ice and the potential for falls.

Healthcare experts say it's the transitions, entering and exiting a vehicle, a home or a place of work when you are most at risk.

By midday, nurses and doctors were starting to see patients who had slipped on icy patches. They recommend that you approach and assume any wet, dark areas on pavement are icy and slippery.

“Every one of them that we see are surprised,” says Dr. Thomas Wheeler, emergency department physician at Mercy Hospital. “They come in saying, 'I can't believe this happened. I thought I was okay.' Whether it's a head injury, back injury, dislocated ankle; the common thread is they thought they were okay. Just unpredicted and sudden.”

Experts also recommend keeping your hands out of your pockets when walking on ice. That helps lower your center of gravity and increases your balance.

“We also see a lot of head injuries, particularly if people are walking with their hands in their pockets or down stairs with something in their hands,” says Mathew Cary, lead nurse practitioner at DePaul Hospital.

While you might feel silly walking like a penguin—slow and steady—it might help keep you safe and out of an ER.