February 2020 - Protecting Yourself from Common Cold Weather Injuries
I enjoy a change of seasons; winter, however, can be problematic. Winter’s adverse weather conditions bring an increased risk for injury but, by taking a few precautions, you can increase your chances of getting through the season unscathed.
Frostbite, hypothermia and dehydration are common exposure-related injuries that can be life- or limb-threatening. Children, the elderly and those who work outdoors are most susceptible.
Frostbite attacks exposed skin and extremities, particularly fingers, toes, nose and cheeks, while hypothermia affects the brain and occurs when your core body temperature falls below normal levels. Although dehydration is more often associated with hot weather, it can occur quickly and easily in the cold, too.
To lessen the risk of these injuries:
- Pay attention to weather forecasts, including the “wind chill” factor;
- Dress in layers that can be removed if you overheat;
- Wear moisture-wicking fabrics closest to your skin;
- Avoid tight-fitting clothes that hinder circulation.
The best precaution is to limit your time outdoors if possible but, if your work requires you to be outside, wear protective clothing and take advantage of warm rest areas. Workers who suffer cold weather injuries as a result of their job may be eligible for benefits to cover medical expenses and lost wages under Workers’ Compensation Insurance.
These are not the only cold weather risks winter brings. Snow, freezing rain, ice and high winds make driving more hazardous. According to AAA, almost half a million accidents and more than 2,000 fatalities each year are attributed to adverse weather conditions; 17% of these accidents are attributed to snow and sleet and 13% to icing.
It’s important to keep your vehicle in good working condition this time of year, paying special attention to tires, lights and wipers. Fill your gas tank and washer fluid and carry extra food, water, blankets and an emergency kit in case you get stuck. Other driving safety precautions include:
- Reducing your speed;
- Keeping a safe distance from other vehicles;
- Increasing speed gradually when approaching a snow-covered or icy hill.
- Stay safe and remember, Spring is just around the corner.