While beautiful to behold, that sparkling white blanket of snow can quickly turn to ice and make winter activities treacherous.
Icy stairs and walks covered in drifting snow are hazards to wrists, ankles, heads, knees, shoulders, backs, fingers, and toes. This season, take steps to protect yourself from injury.
Don’t Fall for It
Slips and falls are a main cause of winter injuries. If you do slip, do not fight the fall. Struggling to maintain your balance can result in twisting or bending injuries that may be worse than the fall itself. If you fall forward, try to roll in the direction of the fall – if you fall backward, try to sit down.
To avoid taking a spill: Take your time and focus on the path under your feet, watch out for uneven terrain or black ice hidden under snow, wear boots with good traction or place traction devices such as Yaktrax over your shoes, keep steps and walkways free snow and ice. Apply sand or salt before it snows to prevent icy buildup. Clear snow soon after a storm, when it is easiest to remove, clean your shoes when you enter a building. Watch for tracked-in snow, slush, and puddles of water on the floor near entrances.
Snow-clearing Safety Tips
Removing snow is another activity that can lead to winter injuries. Before starting, be aware that snow removal can put considerable strain on the body and heart. Ask your physician if it is safe for you.
Once you’re cleared for snow removal, follow these tips to avoid mishaps with a snow shovel or snowblower: Warm up, pace yourself, take frequent breaks, and stay hydrated, do not overfill the shovel – a full load of snow can weigh as much as 20 pounds, bend your knees, and lift with your legs. Better yet, push the snow in front of you instead of lifting, when possible, do not throw a shovelful of snow over your shoulder. The twisting motion can injure your back, if using an electric snowblower, take care not to trip over the cord, NEVER put your hand inside a snowblower to clear a clog. Instead, stop the engine, wait for a few seconds, and then clear the chute with a sturdy object.
Get Help Fast
The Emergency Department at Mountainside Medical Center quickly delivers expert care for winter injuries. The Fast Track area expedites injury cases and is equipped with digital X-ray technology, enabling staff to quickly consult with medical specialists throughout the facility or even off-site.
For more information about Emergency Services at Mountainside Medical Center, visit www.mountainsidehosp.com/emergency.