Wellness Wednesday: Winter Weather Safety

The winter season is almost upon us. Unless you live in a balmy, warm climate area, you are probably going to see at least a coating of some snow, sleet or ice this winter. Depending on where you live, you may see a lot more than others.

Winter weather can be dangerous whether you are driving or just staying home. Roads that may only appear wet, could be in fact icy. So it’s important that you are prepared for the worst and hope for the best.

Driving Safety

winter_driving_infographicOn average, weather-related vehicle crashes kill 6,253 people and injure more than 480,000 each year, according to the Department of Transportation. Most of these accidents occur when the roadways are wet, snowy or icy. When the weather takes a turn for the worse this winter, take precautions if you have to be out on the roadways. Whether there is a coating of snow or ice on the roadways, or the asphalt just looks wet, SLOW DOWN! If the temperature is near freezing, drive like you’re on ice—you may be!

AAAcarkitCarry a car emergency kit and blankets in your car. You never know when you may get stuck in a weather-related traffic jam or your car might break down. Without power, you’ll have no heat. So it’s a good idea to keep some emergency blankets in your car for warmth in case you need to wait it out.

Snow Shoveling Safety

Shoveling hundreds of pounds of snow after months of inactivity can put a big strain on the heart.

snow-shovelThe National Safety Council (NSC) recommends the following tips to shovel safely:

  • Do not shovel after eating or while smoking
  • Take it slow and stretch out before you begin
  • Shovel only fresh, powdery snow; it’s lighter
  • Push the snow rather than lifting it
  • If you do lift it, use a small shovel or only partially fill the shovel
  • Lift with your legs, not your back
  • Do not work to the point of exhaustion

Don’t pick up that shovel without a doctor’s permission if you have a history of heart disease. If you feel tightness in the chest or dizziness, stop immediately. A clear driveway is not worth your life.

Snow Blower Safety

Pushing a heavy snow blower also can cause injury. And, there’s the cold factor. Cold weather can increase heart rate and blood pressure. It can make blood clot more easily and constrict arteries, which decreases blood supply. This is true even in healthy people. Individuals over the age of 40 or who are relatively inactive should be particularly careful.

Be safe with these tips from the American Society for Surgery of the Hand and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons:

  • If the blower jams, turn it off
  • Keep your hands away from the moving parts
  • Do not drink alcohol and use the snow blower
  • Be aware of the carbon monoxide risk of running a snow blower in an enclosed space
  • Refuel your snow blower when it is off, never when it is running

More Information:

NWS Winter Storm Safety

Ready.gov

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