How to avoid winter injuries

Cold winter temperatures can come back with a vengeance. We know that winters can be beautiful, but also unpredictable and even dangerous.

Kathleen Lee, MSN, RN, adult injury prevention coordinator for the trauma surgery service, has some important safety tips for keeping injury free every winter. You may want to keep these in mind as you venture out into the snow:

Sometimes, fashion is everything

Layers are important in cold weather, along with hats and gloves. You should also wear bright-colored clothing so that you can be seen easily by cars when crossing streets. Remember, scarves should not be used as a replacement to a face mask when out in public.

And something that is often neglected—appropriate footwear.

These are the best options for winter weather footwear:

  • Flat-soled shoes and boots with rubber and neoprene composite provide better traction than plastic and leather soles.
  • Snow cover spikes that fit on the bottom of your footwear can often provide more traction.

Clear a path

A basic step to avoid falling or slipping is to keep your sidewalks and driveways cleared of snow and ice when possible. And while salt and sand may help improve traction, ice is not always visible.

Even if spaces are cleared, it’s usually best to walk as though snow and ice are present or walk in the grass to avoid hidden slick spots.

Step like you mean it

When you’re unable to take cleared walkways, there’s a few things you can do to help keep you upright.

  • Keep your hands out of your pockets to ensure proper balance.
  • Take small steps.
  • Use caution when getting in and out of vehicles.

Time it out

Go slow and give yourself extra time to get to where you need to be. Keep in mind that activities such as driving and crossing the streets may take longer.

If you do fall, know what to do

People 65 and older—and people any age who are on blood thinning medication—who hit their head during a fall should get evaluated. It’s also a good idea to keep your cell phone handy in the event of an emergency.

Last reviewed: 
December 2020

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