5 Tips for Avoiding Common Cold-Weather Injuries

Like Ned Stark of “Game of Thrones” fame says, winter is coming. Are you prepared for what the changing weather means for your health?

Humans aren’t immune from the weather, and freezing temperatures come with a new set of hazards. Here are five tips for avoiding common cold-weather injuries.

5 Tips for Avoiding Common Cold-Weather Injuries

1. Clear A Path

Winter weather hazards can have a severe impact on your health — and your financial bottom line. On average, slip-and-fall injuries result in more missed days of work than other types of damages, resulting in approximately eight days of lost time. If you’re an hourly employee who barely makes ends meet on today’s wages, you could find yourself facing significant hardship.

The problem multiplies if you own a business. You’re responsible for maintaining safe conditions on your property, and you could face a lawsuit if you fail to clear your parking lot or sidewalk. Worse, you could unwittingly injure a valuable customer — and lose them for life.

You should know the law in your jurisdiction as a private citizen. Some municipalities set a time limit on how long you have to clear your sidewalks and driveways. Failing to do so can open you to potential liability if someone slips and falls while walking to school or work in front of your house.

Fortunately, technology provides more effective snow removal options than ever:

  • Shovel: The cheapest method of hand-removing snow and ice.
  • Plow: You might want to invest in one of these for the front of your truck if you have a long driveway to clear or a large property.
  • Salt and ice melters: These substances create a chemical reaction that helps melt snow and ice.
  • Mats: This technological development is a boon for those with mobility issues who live in cold-weather climates. Although they’re a bit expensive, they maintain a ground temperature of around 40°, keeping a path clear to your door without the need for shoveling.

2. Respect Your Limits

Shoveling snow qualifies as intense cardiovascular and strength training. Therefore, you should treat this like any other physical activity, starting with a warm-up and monitoring your exertion levels as you clear a path. Of all the snow shoveling injuries that occur each year, heart attacks form the majority of mortalities.

You should also follow proper form while shoveling. Use your legs to do the heavy lifting, bending at the knees and keeping the blade close to your body’s midline to prevent back strain.

It’s also wise to put a coat of wax on your shovel before you begin to help it break through snow and ice more readily. You can use car wax or even cooking spray to coat the shovel blade.

3. Keep Warm and Dry

Hypothermia and frostbite can occur in cold weather regardless of how much or how little snow and hail you get. To protect yourself from these hazards, you need to dress for the weather.

Start by using layers — that way, you can shed them if you enter homes or offices that are uncomfortably warm. Your base layer should remove moisture — fleece-lined thermal underwear makes a good choice if you plan on spending much time outdoors.

Your middle layer whisks away the moisture from the bottom layer. Look for synthetic fabrics or wool. Your topmost or shell layer keeps the elements at bay. Look for one that offers soundproofing protection. Depending on where you live, you might want to seek garments that are also waterproof.

4. Wear The Right Shoes

Your choice of footwear can enhance or reduce your chances of injury. As much as you might want to wear those strappy stilettos to your New Year’s Eve bash, you’re better off sticking with boots — at least until you reach your destination.

Look for boots that cover at least up to your ankle. If snow tends to get deeper where you live, you might want to go for versions that come closer to your knee. Look for plastic soles with deep treads to give you traction on icy surfaces.

5. Know When To Say When

Colder weather means the holiday season, translating to celebrations. It’s natural to want to relax with an adult beverage or two. However, there’s a reason that DUIs tend to increase between November and mid-January. A conviction could affect everything from your finances to your career — don’t risk it.

Worse, you could injure yourself or someone else. You don’t want to live with that guilt burden on your head. You can find sober ride services — some of which are free — to ensure you arrive home alive. Plan a pickup before you begin indulging, clouding your judgment.

Heed These 5 Tips for Avoiding Common Cold-Weather Injuries

The winter season brings with it new health risks. Heed these five tips for avoiding common cold-weather injuries.