Written by Sarah Thebarge, Physician Assistant
The winter is full of family fun and awesome snow sports but it’s also an easy time for injuries to happen. Slippery ice, traffic, and cold muscles can lead to unexpected falls and crashes. Here are a few tips to keep you safe this winter:
1) Use good body mechanics when you’re shoveling.
During winter months, tens of thousands of people sustain injuries to their necks, backs, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles while shoveling snow. Because shoveling is one of the most common winter injuries, it’s important to use good body mechanics while doing the lifting, bending, and twisting motions that shoveling entails. For example, focus on maintaining a straight back instead of rounding it when you bend over.
2) Drive carefully and slow down.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there are at least 5.8 million car accidents each year, and 21% of those accidents occur during inclement weather. Because snow, ice, freezing rain, sleet, and fog increase the risk of a motor vehicle accident, it’s important to be especially careful when driving during winter months -- and, of course, always wear your seatbelt! Pro tip: If your wipers are on, your headlights should be too!
3) Play winter sports safely.
While winter provides the opportunity for lots of fun outdoor activities, it also comes with an increased risk of sports-related injuries. In fact, more than 200,000 people sought medical care for winter sports-related injuries in 2018. Because skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, and sledding are the most common causes of winter injuries, it’s important to take precautions when engaging in these activities and wear appropriate safety gear (including a helmet!) when indicated.
4) Dress for the weather.
Every year, cold weather causes more fatalities in the U.S. than hot weather does. One of the most effective ways to prevent hypothermia-related injuries is to be aware of the weather forecast and make sure to dress accordingly. In addition to wearing warm clothes and an adequate coat, it’s also important to protect your head, face and hands when you’re out in the elements.
5) Watch your step.
The National Safety Council estimates that there are nearly 9 million ER visits each year from slip-and-fall accidents, which are more likely to occur during winter months when ice, rain, and snow create dangerous conditions. It’s important to take precautions by shoveling and salting walkways. Also, if you’re spending time outdoors, you can decrease your risk of a slip-and-fall injury by wearing sturdy footwear and carefully watching your step.
Even if you’re being cautious, accidents happen. There are plenty of safe wintertime activities. At GoHealth Urgent Care, we’re here for you 7 days a week with injury care and x-ray services. Save your spot online or walk in 7 days a week.