Winter Weather Hazards
While the winter months bring an abundance of fun activities and events, there are a number of safety hazards that come with the presence of cold weather, snow and ice. With most parts of the United States experiencing at least some type of winter weather, it’s important to know how to prevent weather-related injuries for you and your family.
Temperature-related conditions such as hypothermia and frostbite are of particular importance during the winter time, especially for young children. Remember to layer up, cover up, and drink up to prevent these icy ailments:
- Layer up with a long undershirt (or two) and a sweater on top, long underwear and heavy pants on bottom, and thick socks and waterproof boots on your feet.
- Cover up with a warm coat, hat, gloves, and scarf
- Drink up because your body can loses a lot of water when you’re breathing heavy in cold temperatures!
Snow and ice can make traveling by foot or motor vehicle dangerous. Motor vehicle crashes account for 70% of snow and ice related injuries. Before the start of the season, have a mechanic check your car to make sure it is ready for winter. When possible, avoid driving in any type of winter weather. When walking on ice, be sure to wear appropriate footwear, take small steps or shuffle, and keep your hands out of your coat pockets so you can catch yourself if you fall. If you’re responsible for shoveling snow, make sure to warm up your muscles a bit before heading out and pace yourself — slow and steady wins the race to safety. For more information on safe shoveling, check out these tips from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.
Oddly enough, heat is more of a concern during the winter than during the summer. Heating equipment is the leading cause of home fire deaths, and they occur most in the winter months. Be sure to keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet from all heating sources, and create a 3-feet kid free zone around any open fires or space heaters. Though it may be tempting, never use an oven to heat your home, and turn off all space heaters before going to bed or leaving the room. And of course, check that your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are working by testing them once a month.
Lastly, it is important to be prepared for a winter emergency. Keep an emergency supply kit in both your home and your car that includes essential items like non-perishable food, water, first aid supplies, a battery-powered radio, flashlight, a cell phone charger, extra winter clothes, a shovel, and blankets. Also, create a family communication plan so you will know how to contact one another if everyone isn’t home when a winter emergency strikes. Tune into winter weather advisories to stay up-to-date on local warnings and travel bans.
Did You Know?
- Cold weather kills twice as many people as hot weather every year in the United States (Source: CDC)
- Around 11,500 snow-shoveling related injuries are treated annually in United States emergency departments (Source: American Journal of Emergency Medicine)
- You should dress older babies and children in one extra layer of clothing than an adult would wear in the same conditions (Source: AAP)
- Babies shouldn’t be buckled into car seats with their winter jackets on because they will compress in a crash. Lay jackets and blankets over car seats instead (Source: Safe Kids)