Winter has come, and along with it many joys but also issues. Every winter, ERs are swamped with people who got injured due to winter conditions. Most commonly, those are injuries associated with slip and fall, which usually occurs outside on ice.
When there's snow outside and the temperature is low, the risk of injuries is very high. This means that you need to take precautions inside and outside your home to avoid spending your winter holidays inside of a hospital.
1. Shoveling - the right way
Of course, you want to have a nice curb appeal even during winter and you also need to make your home entrance and garage reachable. This means a lot of shoveling, which is a serious risk to your health. It includes a lot of bending, twisting and heavy lifting, leading to injuries of muscles and ligaments, most commonly in the lower back. In some cases, there's even a chance of breaking an arm or a hand. Kids can also get hurt if they run past the adult who is shoveling and get hit by the shovel. If you have a heart condition or heart issues, the simple act of walking through heavy snow can pose a threat to your heart, let alone shoveling the snow. If you are over 55, it's 4 times more likely you'll have a heart issue if you go out and shovel snow. According to studies, all deaths of people with heart issues who were shoveling were due to a heart attack.
This is how you will better protect yourself when shoveling:
- stick to a medium pace and often take breaks
- wear warm clothes and slip-resistant boots
- instead of lifting the snow and throwing it over your shoulder, simply push it
- if you notice you're short of breath or are sweating a lot or feeling pain in the chest, stop with the shoveling immediately
- if you're using a snow blower, be careful - hand injuries and finger amputations can happen, so don't stick your hand into the shoot if it gets clogged
- even when you turn off the snow blower, the blades still keep on turning for some time, so wait until they stop completely.
2. How to get out of the car safely
Many people get hurt in front of their homes while getting out of the car. It's important to know the right way to get out of it. More precisely, you need to step down with both feet while getting out because it will reduce the chance of slipping. This means you need to swing both legs out and put both feet completely on the ground. Hold onto the door frame or the steering wheel to stand up more easily. Shorten your steps while walking off the curb and step flat-footed, which will prevent your leading foot to land on the heel first, leading to a slip.
3. Safety inside the home
Maybe you will decide to spend more time at home in order to avoid injuries, but that doesn't necessarily mean you are completely protected during the winter. These are the steps you need to take in order to ensure safety and warmth inside your home:
- prepare your home for the cold: install insulation, weather stripping and check the windows. The water lines on the exterior walls should also be insulated, and gutters cleaned. Your heating system should be checked by a professional, while you can check chimneys and fireplaces. Install a smoke detector and check if the batteries work. Make sure you have another heating option and install a CO detector. As CO is without odor and transparent, you need to know the symptoms of CO poisoning, which include dizziness, headache, upset stomach and vomiting, weakness and chest pain.
4. Prevent an icy situation
The safest way to prevent falling on the ice is to prevent slippery surfaces from forming. Use a de-icing solution or salt on all the walkways before the snow. Also, place rubber matting on doorways, stairs and anywhere else where it can get slippery to prevent falls. If you still get ice on your walkways, then make sure you have quality boots and railings for balance while you're shoveling or putting down the salt. And always carry your cell phone with you in case you need it.
5. Emergency equipment
Inside your home, you also need to be prepared for weather-related emergencies in order to prevent any injuries and health issues. You should stock on food that doesn't need to be cooked and also on the water. Your cell phone should be fully charged and if you plan any travel, mind the weather conditions. You need an emergency kit inside your home that includes a flashlight, first-aid kit, extra medicine, baby items and lamps. You should also have cat litter or sand to use for the icy surfaces. Camp stoves, grills and generators should be kept away from the house, garage and basement, especially generators (some 20 feet from the house). In case the CO detector goes off, leave the house immediately.
6. Preparing the car in the garage
While you're inside your home, prepare your car for a safe drive during snowy or icy weather conditions. Check the radiator and the level of antifreeze. Also, check the tires and replace them with snow tires. Always keep the gas tank full - that way, you'll prevent ice from appearing in the tank and fuel lines. Pour a wintertime formula into the windshield washer. You also need to have an emergency kit inside your car that includes a portable charger, blankets, booster cables, tire pump and flares, but also food and water, compass and maps, first-aid kit and a battery-powered radio.
The conclusion is obvious - you can never be too cautious when it comes to protecting yourself and your family from injuries during the winter months. The best approach is to be prepared ahead and to keep your wits about you when you're outside.