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How to Prevent Winter Accidents and Injuries
While each season has its hazardous situations, during winter even the smallest wrong move or a brief inattentiveness can cause serious consequences. The cold temperatures and icy surfaces lead to many injuries every year. It is important to be aware of the risks and to be prepared mentally and physically too to prevent possible injuries.
The most typical winter injuries are related to three main factors: the cold temperatures, the slippery roads and outdoor winter sports.
The definition of hypothermia is a core temperature less than 35° C. Anyone who spends much time outdoors in cold weather can get hypothermia.
Accidental hypothermia usually occurs during winter when being exposed to cold temperature without enough warm, dry clothes for protection. It can also be the result of getting stuck in a car on the side of the road for too long. That’s why always having an emergency kit in the car is very important.
It is also highly advised to wear several layers of loose clothing when spending time outside. The layers will trap warm air between them, therefore helping to prevent hypothermia. Try to avoid wearing tight clothing, which could keep your blood from flowing freely in your body. Also stay as dry as possible.
The early signs of hypothermia include cold feet and hands, swollen face, loss of coordination, pale skin, shivering, mumbling, and acting sleepy. Babies, elder people and people with medical conditions such as diabetes, stroke or hypothyroidism are especially at risk. Be on the lookout for the signs!
Slip-and-fall and driving
The icy, slippery surface can be dangerous when walking or running outside, just as well as when driving during winter.
During heavy snowstorms, it is highly advised to stay inside until roads and sidewalks are properly cleared. However, if you do have to leave the safety of your home, make sure to have appropriate footwear - warm shoes or boots with good tread for traction. If you can, spread sand or rock salt on the areas around your home to improve traction.
Always pace yourself, take slower and shorter steps on the slippery road. If you feel yourself falling anyway, do not fight it; try to always land on your side or bottom to avoid serious back or head injuries.
Driving is another potentially hazardous activity in the winter. Driving too fast for the weather conditions and not leaving enough braking distance between cars are the most common reasons for car accidents during the winter.
Avoid changing lanes too quickly or cutting people off. Do not rush; take plenty of time to get to your destination. Always check to ensure your car has properly functioning brakes and charged battery, as well as sufficient fluid levels.
Winter and snow sports injuries
Injuries common to winter sports that relate to cold and slippery conditions include sprains, strains, dislocations, head and back injuries, frostbite, and fractions. Fortunately, the majority of these sport-related injuries are preventable.
To enjoy your favourite winter sport completely injury-free, follow these few safety tips:
- The biggest secret to preventing sport-related injuries is the warm-up. Always ensure your muscles are properly warmed up before winter activities as well.
- It is very important to wear the correct protective gear – including goggles, helmets, scarves, gloves and padding. Proper footwear is also essential for your balance; in addition it has an important role in supporting your ankles. Check your gear and equipment before practicing in any sport to reduce the risk of injury.
- Always take a lesson (or two) from qualified instructors. Professional lessons will not only make you more confident, but will also include learning how to fall correctly, which can significantly decrease the risk of severe injury.
- As always when it comes to sport, one of the most important things is to hydrate. Drink plenty of water before, during and after outdoor winter activities as well.
- Last, but not least, try never to participate alone in a winter sport.