Safety Tips to Prevent Winter Injuries

safety-tips-to-preventing-winter-injuries

While winter can be an exciting time filled with family gatherings, fun festivities, new year’s resolutions and so much more, it’s also the season in which people suffer from aches, pains and injuries more than any other time of year. Injuries tend to skyrocket in the wintertime because low temperatures result in decreased blood flow to the muscles, which in turn causes them to tense up, shorten in length and ultimately reduce one’s typical range of motion, making them more prone to injury. Combine that with ice and snow and you have a recipe for more frequent injuries.

Just because you’re more likely to suffer an injury during these colder months doesn’t mean you need to stay indoors or avoid engaging in the seasonal activities you and your family love. It simply means you need to be vigilant when participating in the activities that commonly lead to injuries.

Activities That Commonly Result in Winter Injuries

  • Shoveling Snow – This may sound like a routine wintertime chore, but in reality shoveling snow is responsible for an estimated 11,500 emergency room visits1 and as many as 100 deaths every year in the U.S.2 These are astonishing statistics to most people, but when you consider what this task involves – shoveling as many as hundreds of pounds of snow in harsh conditions – the immense risk involved begins to make sense; especially seeing as most people are less physically active during the winter and therefore are at a greater risk for injury.

Injury prevention tips:

    • Always lift with your legs rather than your back
    • Shovel slowly and stretch thoroughly beforehand
    • Only shovel fresh snow and don’t overload the shovel
    • Know your limits – don’t shovel to the point of exhaustion
    • Stay warm, hydrated and avoid shoveling shortly after eating
    • If you experience dizziness, shortness of breath, pain or tightness in your chest, stop immediately and seek medical attention if necessary
  • Slipping and Falling – When someone slips and falls on ice in a TV show or movie it’s hilarious; but if it’s ever happened to you in real life, you understand just how painful and dangerous this can be. In addition to minor pains and bruises, slipping and falling on ice can result in a number of other, far more serious injuries such as hip and wrist fractures, ankle strains and sprains, head and/or brain injuries and more.3

Injury prevention tips:

    • Avoid walking on ice, if possible
    • Make sure your shoes or boots have good traction
    • Thoroughly apply salt to all stairs, sidewalks and driveways
    • Lean forward to shorten your stride when walking on slick surfaces
    • Wear a helmet and protective gear when engaging in winter sports
    • When entering or exiting your vehicle, hold onto the door for extra support until you’re safe and stable on the ground
  • Auto Accidents – Failing to take the necessary safety precautions to prepare your vehicle for winter driving conditions not only puts you and anyone else in your car at risk of injury or death, but everyone else on the road as well. Driving in any poor weather is potentially dangerous but with wet pavement, sleet, snow and ice, the risk of being involved in an accident runs especially high.

Injury prevention tips:

    • Do not use cruise control
    • Always have an ice scraper handy
    • Keep windshield washer fluid levels full
    • Accelerate, decelerate and drive slowly at all times
    • Make sure your gas tank is at least half-full at all times
    • Have the appropriate winter-grade tires installed on your vehicle
    • Ensure your brakes are in optimal working order and have them inspected if necessary
    • Do not drive if you are fatigued or fearful of the conditions – when in doubt, stay home
    • Make sure you have a cell phone with you at all times and limit your time spent driving in the dark

Have You or a Loved One Sustained a Winter Injury?

If you or someone you love has suffered a winter-related injury in the McConnellsburg, Pennsylvania area, we encourage you to come into Fulton County Medical Center right away. People often underestimate the severity of their injuries so it’s best to have a medical professional assess the situation to rule out any potential risks or complications and ensure you receive an accurate diagnosis and treatment.

To speak with a friendly member of our medical team about a potential winter injury, call 717-485-3155 or contact us online. If you’re experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or come into our state-of-the-art emergency department 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

1http://www.oip.com/avoid-common-winter-injuries-with-these-helpful-tips/

2http://www.nsc.org/learn/safety-knowledge/Pages/news-and-resources-snow-shoveling.aspx

3http://www.ichiropractic.net/common-winter-injuries-avoid/

 

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