Before we dash through the snow and glide on fresh sheets of ice, it’s important to make sure you are equipped for going outside for long periods of time and are prepared to prevent any possible winter injuries. From bruises to muscle aches to more serious incidents, help limit the risk of getting injured while enjoying what this beautiful, frosty season has to offer.
Slips and falls
Icy-sidewalks and steps can be difficult to conquer, especially if you are not wearing proper winter footwear. Slipping on ice can be painful and potentially cause a serious injury. To help prevent this, you can sprinkle salt on any icy patches on your property. If the ice isn’t on your property, try to avoid walking over it or make sure your winter boots have enough traction and grip. Another way to prevent falling on ice is to improve your overall balance, flexibility and core by exercising. Read our 8 Easy Ways to Exercise at Home for some fitness ideas and routines to take on during the chilly season.
Shovelling is the culprit for many winter injuries. The demanding physical requirements alone can cause severe back injuries and stress, pulled muscles, joint pain, increase in blood pressure and heart-attacks. To help protect your body before shovelling, warm up with a few stretches to get some blood circulating in your system. Be sure to stretch your hamstrings, back and shoulders. When shovelling, push the snow away instead of lifting it. If you are using a shovel that requires lifting rather than pushing, it’s essential to bend with your knees and lift with your legs. Keep hydrated and take breaks often.
Ice hockey, skating, skiing, snowboarding and tobogganing are just a few winter recreational activities Canadians like to partake in each winter. When playing these winter sports, make sure you have the proper equipment. For instance, wearing a helmet to skate, play hockey, ski and snowboard can help reduce the risk of a concussion and other serious head injuries. When tobogganing, look around the hill to determine if there are any potential hazards such as trees, fences, major bumps, rocks and people before you slide down. Do not attempt to slide down headfirst. Avoid playing any of these winter sports during the evening with little light.
If you plan on taking out the snowmobile this year, be sure to inspect the condition of the snowmobile before hopping on. If it’s in good condition, check the weather forecast, dress warm for the ride and continue to follow proper snowmobile safety tips. Avoid riding alone and at night. Carry a fully charged mobile device with you in case of an emergency.
With colder temperatures it’s important to wear warm clothing and layers. To help stay warm and comfortable, wear wool. Even if it’s wet outside, wool can still preserve body heat. Wearing clothes made out of a synthetic material is also helpful as it wicks moisture away from your skin. This is quite beneficial for activities such as winter running. A winter hat or headband can assist in retaining heat and keep your ears from getting too cold. To help prevent frostbite, wear mittens instead of gloves and check the weather forecast to find out the temperature and wind chill index.
Driving in winter wonderland can be difficult at times, especially when faced with black ice, large snowfall, sleet and slush. Drive defensively and check the weather forecast before heading out. If weather conditions are bad, it’s best to avoid the roads. If you must head out or are already on the road, be vigilant, drive slowly and make sure your vehicle is equipped with a winter emergency kit.
How to treat winter injuries
If you or a family member sustains a winter injury, be prepared with a first aid kit in your home. If the injury consist of aches and muscle pain, Ibuprofen or a Tylenol can be taken as well as heating and ice pads. If you are cold from the winter weather warm up by a fireplace, wrap yourself in a blanket or take a warm shower. If a more serious injury occurs, visit a doctor or emergency clinic.