Winter is a magical time in Wisconsin & Minnesota. Who doesn’t like warm wool sweaters? Quiet, cozy nights with family? Blowing on steamy cups of hot chocolate while watching a favorite film from the comfort of our couches? When mother nature drops her beautiful flakes of downy white snow, it can transform our landscape and rejuvenate our spirits. However, as most of us know, winter can also bring the unexpected. Icy sidewalks, brutal cold, and overexertion from snow removal can lead to trouble. Although some accidents are inevitable, it is possible to prevent injuries with some preparation.
7 tips to avoid the most common injuries, so you can enjoy your winter.
1. Be Mindful of Weather
- Know the temperature: frostbite can occur in less than 30 minutes
- If the wind chill temperature drops below 18 F, don’t venture outside unless absolutely necessary and cover all exposed skin
- Cold temperatures tend to make you feel less thirsty. Stay hydrated when shoveling snow, performing outdoor chores, or engaging in recreational activities.
2. Be Cautious Outdoors
- Carry your cell phone in case of an emergency, but avoid using it while walking
- To prevent falling, shorten your stride when walking across ice
- Take shorter steps
- Be wary of black ice, which is transparent and frequently covers paved surfaces.
3. Gear Up
- Invest in warm snow boots with sturdy traction to prevent slipping on icy roads or sidewalks
- Carry your indoor footwear and change when you get to your destination
- Avoid tracking snow in the house, which can become a slip hazard
- Always wear a hat and scarf in extremely cold temperatures
- Dress in layers
- Wear gloves with liners or mittens with hand warmers
- To reduce the risk of frostbite, wear temperature-appropriate wool socks. If you wear two pairs, the first should be a thin synthetic, and the second should be wool or a wool blend.
- If it is actively raining or snowing, be sure your outer layer is waterproof
- Dress children properly for playing in the snow and provide drinks and snacks at intervals
4. Prepare your Vehicle
- Put de-icer, sand, or kitty litter around the entrance to your home and along the path to the curb or where you park the car
- Salt your driveway
- Have your car inspected and install winter-grade tires
- Keep your gas tank at least half full at all times
- Store a winter kit in your car including a bag of kitty litter, an ice scraper, a safety vest, gloves, an extra hat, jumper cables, a blanket, a small shovel, and a first aid kit
5. Winter Sports Considerations
- Avoid exercising outside in extremely cold temperatures
- Stretch before performing physical exercise. Cold weather tends to make muscles a little stiffer, so you will need to spend more time warming up.
- Wear the correct protective gear, including a properly fitted helmet specially designed for that sport. For example, do not wear a cycling helmet for skiing.
- If you are a winter runner, plan your route carefully. Choose dry, carefully shoveled routes.
- Carry a small pack with room for extra layers, water, a snack, and your phone.
- Exercise with a friend. If alone, let someone know when and where you are going.
6. Shoveling Safety
- To reduce the risk of injury, invest in a curved-shaft shovel
- Push snow rather than lift it
- Do not throw snow over your shoulder or to the side
- If you have heart problems, do not shovel
- Take frequent breaks
- If young children are helping, be sure they are supervised
- Use sunscreen when out in the snow, and wear sunglasses. The intensity of light reflecting from the snow can cause worse burns than in the summer.
Take care this winter and avoid the most common winter injuries.