By: Avera Staff
Who doesn’t love being bundled up with a cup of hot chocolate and a novel, looking outside at a winter wonderland? Although the snow makes for some great scenery, it poses many risks when heading outdoors such as automobile accidents, heart attacks and frostbite. Here are a few ways to avoid these dangers:
Adjust your driving patterns appropriately for the winter weather; snow, ice and sleet create potential hazards on the road. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), increase your following distance from eight to 10 seconds; try to avoid breaking when driving uphill. Slowly accelerate and decelerate. If you are swerving, steer in the direction of the skid. Also, don’t utilize your vehicle’s cruise control capabilities.
Even using a snowblower, in extreme temperatures, can put you at risk of a heart attack; the next time it’s 10 degrees outside, think again before shoveling in the brutal cold — especially with no supervision in case of an emergency. According to the National Safety Council®, try not to shovel while smoking cigarettes or right after eating; stretch your body beforehand, and shovel only light, powdery snow. If you decide to lift the snow instead of pushing it, lift with your legs — also, use a small shovel. Put down the shovel if you have heart disease or are typically inactive and don’t have your physician’s permission.
Skin that is protected by clothing can still be susceptible to frostbite. Frostbite is the most common injury stemming from exposure to severe cold. The early stages of frostbite only affect the skin’s surface: appearing white, waxy or grayish-yellow. The skin feels cool to the touch and numb. If you spot signs of frostbite, get the person into a warm environment; remove his or her damp or constricting clothing; protect between the fingers and toes with dry gauze, and seek medical attention immediately.
Download the National Safety Council® “EMR Guide” app from the App Store or Google Play™. This cell phone app is a free reference tool available to the public. It offers a list of abbreviations, memory aids and an illustrated summary of treatment steps for countless illnesses as well as injuries.
For more information on how to stay safe this winter, please consult a fitness specialist.
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