Scots urged to 'walk like a penguin' as hospitals struggle to cope with falls on ice

Scots have been told to “walk like a penguin” as the recent cold snap has left hospitals and the Scottish Ambulance Service struggling to cope with the influx of patients suffering from ice-induced falls.

Health Boards across the country reported being even more busy than usual after a New Year Bank Holiday on Monday.

The Scottish Ambulance Service said it was seeing higher demand than usual, while NHS 24 reported a record number of calls.

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Several doctors and health chiefs urged people not to go outside if at all possible.

In cases where venturing out cannot be avoided, the NHS asked people to “walk like a penguin” to reduce the risk of falls.

"When the weather is icy, we see a sharp increase in the number of people attending the Emergency Departments with slip and trip injuries such as broken bones,” reads a campaign from NHS Tayside to “walk like a penguin”.

“We would advise people who do need to venture out when the weather is wintry to dress warmly, wear sensible shoes with a good grip and to take care when walking on icy surfaces.“If you want to stay safe whilst walking on icy paths, the advice is to walk like Smarty the penguin – follow our feathered friends and avoid a fall this winter.”

The advice to walk like a penguin is to bend the knees, point feet slightly outwards, and extend arms to each side.

A campaign from NHS TaysideA campaign from NHS Tayside
A campaign from NHS Tayside

"Walk flat footed, taking short slow steps,” the campaign advises.

"Keep your centre of gravity over your feet.”

A poster shared on social media by Scottish health chiefs also advised people to walk like a penguin.

"Normally, when we walk, our legs’ ability to support our weight is split mid-stride,” it advises.

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"Walking this way on ice forces each leg to support the weight of the body at an angle that is not perpendicular to the ice, resulting in a nasty fall.

"To walk on ice, keep your centre of gravity over your front leg.

"One animal that has figured this out is a penguin.

"Think of yourself as a penguin and you’ll be all right.”

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