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Flash freeze after wild swings in Ontario weather create prime slipping conditions

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The wild swing in winter weather, from record-breaking highs to freezing rain in the span of hours, has created prime conditions for slipping and falling in Toronto on Wednesday.

Hillary Pilanik recently had to visit an emergency room when she broke her wrist in a slip and fall accident.

“The whole thing happened so fast. One minute I was walking and the next I was on the ground," Pilanik said.

Catherine Malm-Green also slipped on her icy driveway and is thankful she wasn't seriously hurt. “All I know is I hit my head very hard," said Malm-Green.

It’s estimated tens of thousands of Canadians suffer injuries every year from slipping on streets and sidewalks covered in snow and ice.

Consumer Reports (CR) said it doesn’t take much to end up with a sprained ankle or a much more serious broken hip when there are icy conditions.

Paul Hope with CR said a good first step is using rock salt or ice melters on your walkways and driveway around your home.

Before a storm, lay down a thin layer of salt and then another layer during the storm as it can make it easier to shovel and clear away snow and ice.

However, there are some downsides as salt can seep into porous pavement and damage walkways and driveways.

"They are all basically made up of one of three compounds sodium chloride, magnesium chloride or calcium chloride. They worked slightly differently but in the end they all can cause damage,” Hope said.

Salt can also harm plants and your pets’ paws so Hope said the best way to minimize damage is to try and use less.

You can mix in an abrasive like sand for added traction that Hope said doesn’t put a lot of stock in ice melts claiming to be environmentally or pet-friendly.

“Ice melts with a coating on them may claim to be less damaging, but practically speaking, they’re not once the coating wears off, you’re just left with salt anyway,” Hope said.

A better plan is to set up a rinse tray with water at your door’s entrance so you can wash salt from your pet’s paws.

CR also advises when you go for a walk to choose the right footwear such as boots with non-skid rubber treads.

For even more traction consider a pair of ice cleats, also known as ice spikes, crampons, nano-spikes and microspikes. They attach to your shoes with rubber harnesses or straps and have spikes or screw heads that dig into the ice to keep you from slipping.

Ice spikes are great for traction especially if you're into winter running or hiking, but they can seriously damage flooring so remember to take them off before you step inside. 

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