Local News

Learn How To Avoid Snow-Related Injuries

Posted January 7, 2002 2:18 a.m. EST

— With all of the snow on the ground, whether you are venturing out to shovel or just wanting to get out of the house, you still need to play it safe. Here are some tips on avoiding snow injuries.

Hypothermia and Frostbite

If you plan to spend any long periods of time outdoors when it's cold, you want to be aware of the symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite.

The symptoms of hypothermia include uncontrollable shivering, slurred speech, confusion, drowsiness, weakness and pale skin.

Frostbite is even more serious. Symptoms include loss of function and numbness in affected limbs. The skin will turn blue and white, hard, and waxy.

If you or someone you are with is suffering from hypothermia or frostbite, get inside and call for medical assistance.

Shoveling Snow

  • If you have a history of coronary artery disease or uncontrolled high blood pressure, you should not even try to shovel.
  • If you are going out, warm up with some stretches.
  • When lifting a shovelful of snow, use your knees and keep your back straight.
  • Take a five-minute break for every 15 minutes of shoveling.
  • Listen to your body: stop and get help if you feel shortness of breath or chest pain.
  • Strains and Sprains

    Some of the most common injuries during wintertime are ankle, knee and back strains.

    Symptoms include pain, swelling and muscle spasms. Treat with anti-inflammatory medications and by icing the injury 10 to 15 minutes several times a day. After a couple of days, switch to heat.

    Herniated disks are a more serious problem. Besides localized pain, you will usually have pain radiating down your leg. In that case, you need to call your doctor.

    If you have kids who are going to be out sledding, you should have them wear their bike helmets either under their hood or over their hat.