Common Winter Injuries (and How to Prevent Them)

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While snow days might seem like a magical vacation for your kids, the icy, cold conditions of winter can actually pose serious risks to you and your family. Don’t get blindsided by these common winter injuries:

Falls and Fireworks

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention know that families everywhere will be hanging decorations and possibly setting off fireworks come the holiday season and New Year. The dangers that lie with stringing Christmas lights up on the roof or setting off home fireworks in the driveway are more serious than you may think. Thousands of adults visit the hospital room yearly around the holiday season for serious injuries incurred when falling from ladders and other unsteady platforms – injuries might include sprains, lacerations, even broken bones.  To avoid unwanted falls at home:

  • Always use a second person (spotter) when on a ladder

  • Don’t work on a ladder or other platform up high during rainy, windy or other inclement weather

  • Make sure ladder rungs are non-slip and cleansed off any slippery substances (mud, oil, etc.)

  • Use proper ladder technique (i.e. leaning it against the wall at a correct angle)

As for fireworks, experts recommend visiting a local fireworks show with your family that is put on by professionals at New Years. If you do want to set off smaller fireworks outside your home, remember to:

  • Place fireworks on flat, sturdy, and inflammable surfaces with plenty of open space to go off (avoid overhead power lines)

  • Keep your distance when watching them go off, anywhere from 25 to 75 yards away depending on the size of the fireworks and height they fly up to

  • Have water or an active hose nearby just in case you do need to extinguish something

  • Don’t set off fireworks in windy weather, sparks can fly great distances and start fires

  • Light one firework at a time and then get back as far as possible as quickly as possible

  • Keep an eye on kids that they don’t get injured playing, i.e. with even seemingly harmless sparklers

Slips and Sprains

While the roads might seem like the most dangerous places to be during wintry weather, it is often that slips and injuries happen right outside people’s homes on icy driveways and slick sidewalks and porches. Even an injury as small as a sprained thumb can have serious consequences on your ability to do daily tasks like dressing, brushing teeth, and eating!

Sprains occur when the tendon or other tissue connecting a joint together, like the ankle or wrist, becomes pulled and strained. It can incur microscopic tears or simply become inflamed. This might lead to painful swelling, tenderness, and limited range of motion. Most mild sprains can be addressed at home with the R.I.C.E. method – rest, applying ice, adding compression, and elevating the sprained appendage. Some sprains and strains, however, should be seen by a doctor, especially if the swelling doesn’t subside, if there is discoloration at the site of the injury, or if the pain is severe and the joint or limb cannot be moved at all.

Common causes of slips and sprains during the winter come from shoveling snow and ice. Don’t forget these smart reminders to prevent hurting yourself:

  • Warm your muscles up before you head out to shovel snow and ice (brisk walk, jumping jacks, etc.)

  • Use proper equipment like a snow shovel with ergonomic handle design

  • Pace yourself and take breaks to drink water and stretch

  • Consult your doctor if you have a pre-existing condition (back pain, heart problems, etc.) which might be exacerbated by strenuous shoveling and bending activity

  • Wear proper footwear that protects your feet from the cold but also stabilizes your movements and prevents you from falling on the ice

  • If you do fall, seek medical treatment especially if you suspect an injury or happened to hit your head

Other important injury considerations to keep in mind during the winter months include burns, fires, and carbon monoxide poisoning from heating the home. Make sure to have your chimney checked for creosote buildup and ventilation issues, and check the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Have a happy and safe winter!

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  1. Winter, the most dangerous and coldest season. But also very entertaining at the same time with a lot of activities! Watch the bones!

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