Winter weather and icy conditions are here - It's time to "walk like a penguin"

Pinnacol Assurance partners with Denver Zoo and launches new campaign to reduce injuries 

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As winter weather continues to deliver snow and ice across much of the state, Colorado’s largest workers’ compensation insurer — Pinnacol Assurance — is reminding everyone to “walk like a penguin” in order to stay safe and on your feet. 

“When we look at slipping and falling, it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. We are just naturally going to slip when there is ice,” said Pinnacol safety consultant Randy Philabaum.

This is the time of year where hospitals see more ER visits due to falling. Dr. Ben Usatch, of the ER at UCHealth Highlands Ranch Hospital said everyone is talking about COVID and flu season, but really, it is falling season in a Jan. 27 interview.

Penguins, on the other hand, are uniquely adapted to navigating slippery surfaces. “When we mimic how penguins walk — short shuffles, angled feet, outstretched arms — we can stay on our feet better and avoid dangerous falls,” said Philabaum.

January and early February is a risky time for Coloradans because of winter weather. A recent study of Pinnacol’s claims data since 2017 found that 40% of all claims result from slipping. This concerning trend has led Pinnacol to raise awareness about slips, trips and falls and provide increased education in order to reduce injuries.The penguin walk is an easy and fun way for Coloradans to remember how to adapt their walk in challenging conditions. The waddle works!

The Denver-based insurer is also the sponsor of a new African penguin exhibit at Denver Zoo, Pinnacol African Penguin Point. Located at the Zoo’s main entrance, the $1.7 million exhibit features a 10,000-gallon swimming pool, multiple burrows and nesting areas, and nearly 85 linear feet of underwater viewing areas. The state-of-the-art exhibit allows guests to watch up close how penguins walk as well as learn about the birds from their keepers and other experts.

 Other tips to reduce risks during winter weather include:

  • Make sure you wear shoes with traction in snow or ice. (Leather-soled shoes and high heels are particularly unsafe in winter weather.)
  • Wear gloves or mittens and keep your hands out of your pockets and extended to help with balance — and to potentially catch yourself if you fall.
  • Take extra precautions getting in and out of your car. Try to maintain three points of contact at all times — either two feet on the ground and one hand holding onto something that won’t move (like the steering wheel), or one foot on the ground and both hands holding onto something secure. 
  • Be cautious with inside surfaces that can become very slippery and accumulate moisture. 

Also, Pinnacol came up with an easy-to-remember acronym to help people learn how to walk like a penguin:

P — point your toes outward and walk flat-footed.

E — extend your arms for balance. Just like flippers!

N — no unnecessary distractions.

G — grippy shoes are a must!

N — neat, shuffling steps.

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