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COLUMN: Seniors can prevent falls by making a sand-salt shaker

BRAINERD, Minn. - Winter has arrived as snow fell for the first time this past week. Seniors who could be at risk for falling on snow and ice are better prepared. With the help of Crow Wing Energized and local community members we started a sand-...

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BRAINERD, Minn. - Winter has arrived as snow fell for the first time this past week.

Seniors who could be at risk for falling on snow and ice are better prepared. With the help of Crow Wing Energized and local community members we started a sand-shaker project.

A sand shaker can help reduce or eliminate the risk of falls in icy weather for anyone. A sand shaker is nothing more than a sand-filled "flip-top" water bottle that can be kept in the cup holders of vehicles during icy weather and used to apply sand for traction as a person exits their vehicle to make their way to and from their destinations.

Sand-shaker bottles have been provided to recent Matter of Balance, fall prevention program, participants who graduate from there eight-week class.

The seniors at Carefree Living enjoyed a Thursday afternoon visit with students from Oak Street Christian School filling sand bottles.

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Good Samaritan Home Care along with Woodland Good Samaritan and local Girl Scout Troop 314 worked together to fill over 100 sand-shaker bottles to pass out to seniors over the winter months.

Here's how to make one at home or with a group:

• Purchase flip-top water bottle or recycle used plastic water or pop bottles by rinsing them and allowing them to dry.

• Go to a local home improvement store and get playground or general purpose sand, typically in 40 or 50 pound sizes, which may be a lot for one person, but you could do this as a family, neighborhood or group. Playground sand usually costs between $3 and $6 a bag. This type of sand is about the right coarseness. Stay away from paver and jointer sand as they can be too fine to offer good traction.

• The main goal is to add traction on top of the ice, not to melt the ice. However, if you need to do both, check your home improvement store for a pre-mixed sand/salt mix.

• After parking, shake the sand out of the bottle before stepping out of your vehicle and along parking lots or walkways with ice and snow.

• Remember to refill your sand shakers when empty!

Clarissa Gildart is with Good Samaritan Home Care and Billie Linstad with Carefree Living Company, both are participants in Crow Wing Energized.

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