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The winter months can be particularly dangerous, even if you have no intention of hitting the slopes or spending a lot of time outside. According to Primary Care and Sports Medicine Physician Richard Sirard, MD, the number of injuries he sees related to falls increase dramatically this time of year. “You don’t have to walk far in icy conditions in order to fall and hurt yourself. If surfaces are left untreated and icy, just a walk to your car can be dangerous,” he says.
Dr. Sirard says the severity of the injuries he sees during the winter months related to slips and falls range from sprains and strains of the wrist to more severe hip fractures and even head injuries. To prevent fall related injuries he suggests wearing proper footwear with good treads and taking smaller, deliberate steps.
While shoveling snow can be great exercise, it can also pose some serious health risks. Dr. Sirard says that when it comes to shoveling snow, you should take precautions to protect your back. “People are often surprised by how heavy snow can be. The same rules of lifting apply to snow shoveling. Make sure you are bending at your knees and push the snow rather than throwing it over your shoulders. Also, minimize the amount of twisting you do,” says Dr. Sirard.
Another thing Dr. Sirard says to keep in mind is that snow shoveling can be strenuous work. He suggests pacing yourself, taking frequent breaks and dressing in layers. Those over the age of 55 or those who suffer from heart conditions should be especially careful.
Snow blowers, like anything else, can be dangerous if not used properly. Dr. Sirard says that regular maintenance on your snow blower is a must and that if there is a jam, make sure to turn the power off before trying to fix the jam and never stick your hands in the snow blower.
Even though there are plenty of dangers associated with winter, Dr. Sirard says that as long as you are cautious, there are plenty of ways to enjoy it as well. “Winter in this area can be great. We have some great resorts for skiing and snowboarding and even if you don’t like winter sports there is still plenty to enjoy during the winter months,” says Dr. Sirard.