Regardless if you rely on a persimmon, the farmer’s almanac, wooly worms or the meteorologist there is one thing that is certain. This winter will be cold. Mother Nature has snow, ice, sleet and freezing temperatures in store for the Midwest again this winter. Whether you are a summer sweetheart or winter worshiper there are steps to take to prevent seasonal injuries.
Winter brings activities that you cannot access any other time of year. Whether building snowmen or sledding, winter can be a magical time of year. We have created a list of things to watch out for when the temperatures drop.
Hypothermia is caused by prolonged exposure to cold temperatures. Before going out into the piercing wintery air don’t forget the acronym COLD.
Cover – Don’t forget to bundle up before heading outside!
Avoid overheating – Sweat and cold air can be a bad mixture and cause you to lose body heat more quickly.
Loose layers – Loose layers allow you to shed outer layers if you become hot and hold in body heat better. Outer layers should be water resistant so avoid cotton if possible.
Dry clothing – If your clothing does get wet be sure to change as fast as possible. Mittens and boots are perfect places for snow to hide so be sure to keep your hands and feet dry as well.
Other safety precautions to help avoid Hypothermia include making sure you go indoors frequently to warm up. If you must travel in inclement weather be sure to let someone know where you are going and pack blankets and warm clothing in the vehicle in case of car trouble.
Frostbite occurs when body tissue literally freezes! Your ears, nose, cheeks, fingers and toes are most likely to get frostbite. Anyone can get frostbite if exposed to the cold for long periods of time or from extremely cold temperatures for a short period of time. Frostbite and Hypothermia are known to occur together. Follow the same prevention measures for frostbite as hypothermia. If you suspect you or someone you know may have frostbite, do not use direct heat on the affected areas. Obtain medical attention immediately.
Slips and falls are the number one cause of accidental injury, according to OSHA, especially in winter weather. Use handrails when walking up and down stairs or ramps. Resist the temptation to walk with your hands in your pockets; if you feel unbalanced your upper extremities could help you regain balance. Carefully exit vehicles; you never know what the footing is like until you get out of your car.
Ice Skating is a popular winter pastime for all ages. Year after year ice rinks open their doors to hundreds of people at a time. Even with rink guards on duty, falls and injuries are still common. Injury prevention can be very easy with a few simple precautions.
When trying on your skates make sure that they fit properly. Poorly fitting skates can cause blisters and sores as well as an unbalanced base for skating.
Always look ahead at where you are skating and skate in the same direction as traffic.
Young children and beginners should always wear a helmet to avoid concussion or traumatic brain injury.
If you are skating on a frozen pond do not go on the ice without testing it first. The ice must be at least 6 inches thick all of the way through to be safe to skate on according to the Department of Natural Resources.
Never skate alone or at night.
In the case of an emergency a cell phone should be near by to call for help.
Sledding has been a winter tradition for many years. As the white powdery snow coats the hills and valleys the sled that has been stored away begins to call. Sledding can be fun but it can also be dangerous and can cause injuries.
Before heading outside this winter make sure that you choose a safe hill in advance.
Make sure the hill is not too steep and is covered in snow and not ice.
The hill should also be clear of hazards such as trees, ponds, rocks or fences.
Do not sled on a hill that ends on a street or parking lot.
Never sled while being pulled behind a vehicle, ATV or tractor.