Winter is a beautiful time of year, but it can quickly go from a winter wonderland to a trip to the hospital if we are not careful. In the midst of holiday festivities and cold-weather activities, be mindful of the wintery hazards around you. It is important to stay safe on the ice this season so you can spend the holidays celebrating not recuperating.
The Dangers of Ice
The holiday season is full of surprising dangers. Shorter daylight hours, heavier traffic, colder temperatures, and greater alcohol consumption leave many people needing medical care. In fact, the emergency room takes in 12,000–15,000 people each holiday season decorating accidents alone. The winter weather exacerbates the problem.
Ice is a beautiful yet dangerous part of the winter scene. Each year, injuries related to snow, ice, and sleet cause tens of thousands of people to seek medical care and miss work. While sometimes you cannot prevent these accidents, sometimes you can. Especially when using ladders or operating a vehicle, it is very important to stay safe on the ice or near it.
Precautions to Help You Stay Safe on the Ice This Year
Keep Your Eyes Open
As you are out and about this holiday season, it is important to pay attention. Do not be so focused on admiring decorations that you miss the worst winter weather hazards. Watch out for icy patches. Some are harder to spot than others. Put your phone away while walking, especially in parking lots and along sidewalks
The holiday season is a busy, busy time, and “the holiday rush” is a phrase that is often employed. However, all that rushing about is a common cause for injuries involving falling on ice. Give yourself plenty of time to get to the places you need to be so you can avoid feeling harried.
In order to stay safe on the ice, avoid the temptation to tip-toe on slick surfaces. While that is the natural inclination, it is actually safer to plant your feet firmly. The more surface area, the more secure. The shoes you wear also play a role in how well your feet keep a hold on the ground. While the winter weather persists, wear flat shoes with quality soles. Boots that are designed for the winter weather will have the proper traction.
Clear a Path
While skating rinks make for a fun winter activity, they are better kept out of your own yard. Often the most dangerous and icy spot is your own driveway. If you want to stay safe on the ice this year, it’s important to make sure your driveway is free of ice. There are many ways to do this, and they are not all created equal.
Some methods are easily available but not good for the environment or even for your driveway. Rock salt and magnesium chloride are some of these, and they are toxic for pets and can rust your vehicle’s undercarriage and break down your concrete. Other solutions, such as rubbing alcohol or diluted vinegar or even boiling water, are generally found around the house already and can loosen up ice, making it easier to scrape away.
For those looking to add a little traction on the driveway, homeowners can lay sand or even kitty litter, though doing so will not melt the ice and it tends to create a mess. Heat mats installed under the driveway are the most hands-off way to keep a driveway free of ice, but they are an extensive and expensive endeavor to install.
It is wise, despite the heavy shopping loads typical of this time of year, to keep your hands free in case you need to catch yourself in a fall. While this can help you prevent more serious injury to the head and neck, it can lead to injury of the wrists or arms. Though the natural impulse is to reach out to catch yourself, doing so can lead to sprained or even broken wrists. If at all possible, if you fall, fall on your rear.
In Case of an Injury
While it is always better to stay safe on the ice and avoid injury to begin with, accidents do happen. When they do, seek proper care. Emergency rooms and clinics are more full than usual during the holiday season, so it is wise to go through the proper triage channels when you need care, to make sure that you get the treatment you need.