Great Stocking Stuffer


During my last shift, seven of the first eight patients that I treated had injuries from falls on the ice. Elbow fracture, elbow dislocation, two hip fractures, coccyx (tailbone) fracture, depressed skull fracture, a few back pains … and a partridge in a pear tree.

When it snows out, the snow is slippery. When you compress snow by walking or driving over it, the snow stays slippery. When the sun comes out and turns the top layer of snow kind of a clear color, the snow still stays slippery. If you walk on any of these substances, your feet will slip.

Even Ms. WhiteCoat slipped on the ice and fell on her hip when she was getting groceries out of the truck. Busted her cell phone all to smithereens, but at least she’s OK.

So here’s my suggestion for a good stocking stuffer: Shoe Cleats.

I’m not going to give you any links because I don’t want to be accused of a conflict of interest by the FTC or whatever other blogger police are out there. Go online and use your favorite search engine that doesn’t track all of your online movements [cough cough Scroogle cough hack IX Quick] and do a search for “shoe cleats” or “traction cleats” or “fishing treads.” Some sporting goods stores even have them. Then buy some and put them in your family’s stockings or even give them as an early present – especially your independent elderly family members.

They may look dorky, but the $20 you spend on them is a heck of a lot better than the $20,000+ for surgery and the weeks in rehab that will be needed if someone falls and busts a hip.

Trust me. The operating rooms are overbooked and the ortho docs are talking about all the new cars and vacation villas they’re planning to buy.


  1. We just moved to Anchorage, Alaska a few months ago. When I was signing my kids up for ski team in November, right after our first real snowfall, I saw another parent with a pair in his hand, I asked how well they work. He responded, “I can’t tell you how good these things are. I work at the hospital and we’ve already had three broken bones this season from falls. I tell EVERYONE to get a pair.”

  2. I cheap option would be to use socks over your shoes, as shown in the Ig Awards. Not very fashionable, but it’ll may save a broken hip or two.

  3. Alternatively move to the desert…we got up to 80 degrees yesterday 🙂

    On a more serious note temporary traction boosters is a pretty clever idea.

  4. As soon as I found out I had osteoporosis, I bought myself a pair. They worked well in snow but not so well on hard ice, so I bought a second pair with more bite. Then I found some boots (overshoes, really; ugly as sin but what do I care?) with replaceable cleats that make me feel as sure-footed as a mountain goat.

    Except in one place: the subway. I don’t know what those floor tiles are made of but they only provide good traction to dry, soft-soled shoes. The least bit of moisture and all 3 types of cleats just slip all over the place.

  5. Right. When we have a major snow storm, everyone stays home until it ends. The following morning however is always ortho day. Everyone heads out and promptly wipes out. The guy (or woman) on call basically just comes in and stays the whole day straight taking people to the OR, casting,and reducing. And makes enough $ to put a kid through college.

  6. My husband and I split a 2 pack that we bought at Costco about a month back. Don’t know if they still have them or not, but I want to say the 2 pack (2 pairs – 4 pieces) was under $20.

  7. Here in Canada, they sell those things in supermarkets and hardware stores, too. I have yet to get myself a pair (when I think of them, I’m not where I could buy them and vice versa), but they’re a great idea.

    Also a good idea? Training in how to fall properly. Most martial arts and gymnastics places know how to teach break falls and shoulder rolls – which are really a must-know if you live in a snowy area. That way if/when you do fall, you know how to avoid hurting yourself with any of the common mistakes untrained people make when falling. It’s saved my bacon a few times.

    Obviously, preventing the fall is better, but good safety is layers upon layers: if prevention fails, you really ought to know how to fall.

  8. We have several pairs of them and they work well. Bought them as part of an emergency kit to keep in the car. You just never know.

  9. Thanks Whitecoat! I didn’t even know these existed. I like to run outside in the winter, so these will be perfect! Has anyone who used these used them in a combination of snow/ice/ dry sidewalk? How well does that work out?

  10. Great Idea WC! I’ll look them up. Thanks! 🙂

    This post and comments is causing me to miss working in the hospital.. Our ED gets real busy during ski season. And snowstorms/ice. I remember ortho day/nights very well. 🙂

  11. Yep, after a very bruised rear end I bought a pair of Yak Traks and then started running and moved onto the sport spikes. Well worth the money. Like Tammi K, I moved up to a town outside of Anchorage from a warmer Ketchikan and had to figure out something quickly.

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