How to Avoid Common Winter Injuries
An injury can happen at any time of the year. But winter weather increases the risk of certain types of accidents, such as car crashes and slips and falls. Our Birmingham personal injury attorneys discuss some of the most common winter injuries and offer safety tips for preventing them.
Slips and Falls on Ice and Snow
It’s easy to slip and fall on icy surfaces. The ice provides less traction and you may not notice a patch of ice on the ground until it’s too late. Even if you recover your balance, you could end up hurting your back.
Anyone can be hurt by slipping and falling on ice, but seniors are especially vulnerable. According to the CDC, falls are the leading cause of injury and death among older Americans.
According to the Orthopedic Institute of Pennsylvania, some of the most common injuries caused by slipping and falling on ice and snow include:
- Head or brain injuries, including concussions
- Ankle strains and twists, and other kinds of muscle sprains and ligament strains
- Broken bones, most commonly hip and wrist fractures
- Back injuries, including spinal compression fractures
- Injuries to the spinal cord
Here are some tips from the Orthopedic Institute of Pennsylvania on how to avoid slips and falls during winter:
- Wear proper footwear made for icy and snowy conditions.
- Avoid long steps and instead take short strides.
- Walk carefully across parking lots and provide children and seniors with extra support
- Try not to rush or run outdoors.
- Keep de-icer or sand on hand for when things get slippery around your house.
- In case of injury, always have your cell phone handy.
- If you need to do outdoor chores, take your time and don’t hurry.
Winter Injuries While Shoveling Snow
Shoveling snow is physically demanding and involves a lot of repetitive motions.
This often causes muscle strains and aches. The back, neck, and shoulders are the areas most commonly affected.
While muscle strains generally heal on their own, it’s possible to suffer more serious injuries. A national study found that over the course of eleven years, there was an average of 11,500 emergency room visits due to snow shoveling-related injuries.
In a small percentage of these cases, patients suffered heart attacks.
Experts at the Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin Health Network recommend avoiding snow shoveling or taking frequent breaks if you have risk factors for heart diseases. Go inside if you start to overheat, and call 911 immediately if you have symptoms of a heart attack.
You can reduce the risk of a pulled back or other soft-tissue injuries by warming up your muscles beforehand and using proper form. Instead of lifting the snow onto the shovel, push the snow away. Protect your back by keeping a slight bend in your knees.
Snow and slush, sleet, ice, and wet pavement all make driving more difficult and risky. One study found that over 445,000 people were injured during a ten-year period in weather-related traffic accidents.
Here are some important winter driving safety tips:
- Make sure your tires have enough pressure and the tread isn’t worn
- Have your vehicle inspected, especially the breaks
- Keep your windshield wiper fluid full
- Carry an ice scraper in your car
- Store a winter emergency kit in the trunk
- Never drive without a cellphone
- Limit the time spent driving in the dark
You can find even more information in our blog post about winter car maintenance.
Injuries During Winter Sports and Activities
Many people across the country enjoy winter sports like skiing, hockey, and snowboarding. There are ski resorts in Alabama, and residents can vacation at winter resorts in other states. Snow tubing, sledding, and ice skating are especially popular among children and families.
All of these activities can lead to injuries, and it’s important to take safety precautions. Wear a helmet and use the property safety equipment during winter sports. Whether you are at a skating rink or a ski resort, make sure you follow the facility’s safety rules. Be mindful of your limits and skill level, and don’t attempt a slope or a trick you aren’t ready for.
Parents should always supervise children who are playing outside in the snow.
Contact Hare Wynn
While you can reduce the risk of winter injuries, you can’t control the actions of others. You might be hurt in a crash by a negligent driver or your child could fall at a skating rink that failed to follow proper safety measures.
Hare Wynn has been helping personal injury victims for over 130 years. We have recovered over two billion dollars on behalf of clients. Schedule your free consultation today by calling 800-568-5330 or filling out our contact form.