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Know the Facts: Top Winter Health & Safety Hazards

 

We asked our emergency medicine, same-day care, and walk-in clinic experts about the top health and safety issues they typically see each winter. Armed with the facts, you can take steps to stay healthy and safe this winter.

We hope you don’t suffer from any of these conditions, but we are here for you if you do! Our Emergency departments, Same-Day appointments, and Walk-In Clinic providers can treat these conditions and more. If you have a true medical emergency, call 9-1-1 immediately.

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COVID-19

To keep yourself and others safe, continue practicing COVID-19 precautions by wearing a mask, social distancing & washing your hands.

Cold Exposure

Hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature, is a dangerous condition that can occur when a person is exposed to extremely cold temperatures. Symptoms in adults include shivering, exhaustion, confusion, slurred speech, and drowsiness. Seek immediate medical attention if a person’s temperature is below 95° F.¹

Frostbite is an injury to the body that is caused by freezing. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes. Symptoms in adults include reduced blood flow to hands and feet, numbness, tingling or stinging, aching, and bluish skin. If you notice signs of frostbite, seek medical attention.²

Slippery conditions lead to falls & car accidents

Many injuries related to cold weather happen from falls on ice-covered sidewalks, steps, driveways, and porches. Keep your steps and walkways as free of ice as possible by using rock salt, another chemical de-icing compound or sand.³

Each year, there are approximately 1.2 million vehicle crashes due to adverse weather or on slick pavement.⁵ If you must travel, let someone know your destination and when you expect to arrive. Ask them to notify authorities if you are late. Check and restock the winter emergency supplies in your car before you leave. Always carry extra warm clothing and blankets with you.³

Space Heater Mishaps

Approximately 21,800 residential fires are caused by space heaters each year, and 300 people die in these fires. An estimated 6,000 persons receive hospital emergency room care for burn injuries associated with contacting hot surfaces of space heaters, mostly in non-fire situations.⁴ Don’t use a space heater within 3 feet of anything that may catch on fire and never cover your space heater.⁴

Cold, Flu & Sickness

Protect yourself & others from feeling under the weather

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Stay away from people who are sick
  • Stay at home if you are sick
  • Avoid close contact with others
  • Practice good cough and sneeze etiquette
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects⁶

Winter Sports Injury

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, almost 200,000 people were treated for injuries related to winter sports in 2018.

  • 76,000 injuries from snow skiing
  • 53,000 injuries from snowboarding
  • 48,000 injuries from ice skating
  • 22,000 injuries from sledding

Common winter sports injuries include sprains, strains, dislocations, and fractures. Most winter sports injuries can easily be prevented by wearing protective gear, maintaining good physical condition, staying alert, drinking plenty of water and resting when tired or in pain.⁷

Overexertion while shoveling snow

Shoveling snow is strenuous exercise. People who have a medical conditions such as high blood pressure or heart disease should talk to their healthcare provider before shoveling snow. The combination of cold temperatures and strenuous exercise can trigger a heart attack.¹