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Cold-weather sports like skiing, ice skating and snowboarding lead to tens of thousands of emergency room visits per year. But those are far from the biggest dangers lurking under the snow. These three everyday activities rank at the top of the winter injury list.

You’ve probably heard stories of unfortunate individuals who suffer cardiac events while clearing the driveway. But according to the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, heart-related ER visits account for only about 6% of an average 11,500 shoveling-related emergency room visits each year. Much more frequent are exhaustion and muscle strain caused by the weight and motion of shoveling snow.

Tips for safer shoveling

  • Wear appropriate clothing, such as thin layers, warm socks, slip resistant footwear, gloves and a hat.
  • Use proper body mechanics. Bend at the knees and hips and lift from the core of your body.
  • Try pushing the snow instead of lifting or twisting to throw it over your shoulder.
  • Know your limits. Take frequent breaks and stop immediately if you become short of breath, start sweating heavily or experience chest pains.

Walking is one of the most subtly dangerous winter activities, simply because we tend to take our safety for granted. We treat winter like any other season and often fail to anticipate hazardous conditions until it’s too late. Hidden ice patches, precipitation and other sneaky dangers lead to countless slips and falls.

Tips for safer walking

  • Wear weather-appropriate footwear with non-slip soles.
  • Keep your hands and arms free for proper balance as much as possible. 
  • Walk slowly, slide your feet and avoid turning sharply when you encounter ice, puddles or other slippery surfaces. Hold onto railings when using outdoor stairways.
  • Wipe your feet when entering a building so wet soles won’t cause you to slip on indoor flooring.

Sledding might seem like a carefree childhood pastime but it’s actually responsible for an enormous number of accidents, particularly among those younger than 14. Common injuries include head and neck trauma, lacerations and broken bones.

Tips for safer sledding

  • Wear protective clothing and a helmet
  • Don’t sled in areas with vehicle traffic or obstacles like rocks or trees.
  • Never go down head-first. Sit in a forward-facing, upright position instead.
  • Don’t sled on plastic sheets or objects that can’t be steered.

Accidents can happen no matter how careful you are. The experts at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute can help you recover fully and quickly so you can get back to enjoying your winter. Click here or call 1-800-321-9999 to learn more.

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