Christmas–or your preferred seasonal holiday–is in the air! Unfortunately, that’s not the only thing that’s afoot. Winter can be a dangerous time of year, with the instance of a number of different injuries peaking during this time. Stay warm and safe this winter season. Arm yourself with knowledge. Here are the most common winter-related ailments and injuries and the steps you can take to avoid going to the ER and urgent care to treat them.
More People Slip And Fall During Winter Than Any Other Time Of Year
Drive Safely, Always
Exercise Caution When Shoveling Snow
If You Celebrate Christmas, Be Extra Careful
It’s slippery out there. Snow, ice, and melting ice make walkways and paths particularly treacherous this time of year. Scratches, aches, bumps, and bruises are the most common injuries from slips, trips, and falls, but broken bones and sprains aren’t too far behind.
Stay safe by clearing all snow from stairs, decks, driveways, and sidewalks near your home. Use de-icing agents to prevent any remaining snow or water from freezing and turning into ice. Remember to mind your boots and family members’ boots and shoes. Place boots near the door on a special, textured mat designed to catch excess water. Most of us are vigilant about keeping our footing outdoors. Few of us remember that water and slush from our boots can be just as much of a slipping hazard.
Unfortunately, many of us recognize the dangers of texting and driving or checking our phones while driving. We judge and criticize others for doing it… and then we do it ourselves because it’s just “a few seconds,” or you believe you’re being extra careful. This just isn’t true. It’s just as dangerous for anyone to take their eyes off the road, and a few seconds can equate to covering the distance of a football field, depending on your speed.
It’s especially important for drivers to be cautious during winter months when hazards abound. Ice, snow, slush, sleet, and black ice all contribute to a greater number of collisions and accidents. At least “17% of all vehicle crashes happen due to winter weather conditions,” according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Emergency room visits are more common this time of year. Neck injuries and whiplash resulting from car accidents are some of the most common conditions treated by ER and urgent care centers in the winter.
To minimize your chances of a crash or accident this winter, AAA recommends increasing your following distance to at least five to six seconds, braking early, avoiding stops on inclines and hills, driving more slowly, and keeping a half tank of gas at all times.
ER and urgent care services see a lot of people in winter months as a result of snow shoveling accidents. Muscle tears and strains are the most common shoveling-related injuries, according to the The American Journal of Emergency Medicine (AJEM). Lower back injuries, overexertion, and even cardiac events–including heart attacks!–are other common injuries that occur when people shovel snow. If you are experiencing any strain or muscle pain during shoveling, consider taking a break. Treat sore muscles with heat. If you experience any of the telltale signs of a heart attack, like arm pain, difficulty breathing, or the sensation of your heart being squeezed inside your chest, seek ER and urgent care services nearby immediately. In 2016, nearly one-third–27%–of Americans visited urgent care or emergency centers in the past two years. Don’t avoid help when you need it most.
Injuries compound if you celebrate Christmas. No offense, Santa! In truth, homeowners tend to get up on ladders to decorate the roof, their homes, and the tree, increasing their likelihood of falling. Candles and lights are left unattended or used well-past their prime, resulting in hazards, fires, and burn injuries. Have a spotter when you’re putting up the Christmas lights this year, extinguish candles before leaving your home or going to bed, and inspect light strands for any signs of fraying, wear, and tear.
Stay safe this winter. Unfortunately, staying injury-free may not be as straightforward as you think. Exercise caution, and follow the safety tips above to stay warm and cozy–and out of the hospital.