Winter is here, and with it comes both snow days and icy hazards. Typically, the emergency teams at Kettering Health Network sees three common types of injuries this time of year.
Here are some tips on how to avoid these hazards and keep you and your loved ones safe this season:
1. Slips and falls. Kettering Health Network’s Dr. Joseph Khan at Fort Hamilton Hospital says that injuries caused by slips and falls are the number one reason people visit the emergency department this time of year. Falls are especially serious for the older adults. “Staying active is important for the elderly,” he says. “There are some balance programs that can help seniors maintain their flexibility. As people become less and less active, they lose what’s called proprioception, which is the concept of where your brain knows where your hands and legs are. They can become more and more unsteady, and the more tentative they get, the more likely they are to fall.” To help prevent slips and falls, always be aware of the conditions of sidewalks and roadways, and wear non-slip shoes. Walk slowly and deliberately any time you need to cross potentially slippery areas, and don’t hesitate to use handrails.
2. Excessive exertion. Overuse injuries are also incredibly common during the winter season. “The snow falls and people start shoveling and come in with sore backs,” says Dr. Khan. After being sedentary for much of the fall, it’s easy for people to overdo it shoveling snow off the sidewalk or the roof. Exertion paired with icy conditions can lead to sprains, pulled muscles, and even broken bones. Before you go out and shovel the walk, take some time to warm up, and don’t rush through the exercise. Also, be sure to call on others to help if you haven’t been active yet this season. Go slow and know your limits!
3. Fender-benders. According to Dr. Khan, the third most common type of injury he sees in the emergency department are injuries sustained after the first snow in when traffic accidents increase. “Always wear safety belts,” says Dr. Khan, “and make sure baby seats are properly installed. Your local fire department is very good at helping sort out baby seats because they’re sometimes ridiculously complicated.” Ensure that you are alert when driving in inclement weather, and don’t feel pressured to drive at unsafe speeds.