Top 5 Risks to Watch Out for in the Winter Weather (and how to stay safe)

1. Slip and fall risk! 

We have to cover slip and fall risks first and foremost as they are the leading cause of winter injuries. Conditions in the winter are often inconsistent. Some surfaces may have sheets of ice on them while others are totally fine. Some ice you can see clearly, and other ice you won't see without a keen eye. The best way to stay ahead of the winter weather slip and fall risks is to be prepared. Get shoes with solid grip, check the weather, and take note of what areas pose the greatest risk. Areas that get little to no sunlight throughout the day are often the biggest contributors to unseen hazards such as ice or otherwise slippery surfaces. Be sure to take in your surroundings and more slowly and carefully - everyone regardless of age is at risk of injury from slipping and falling, however, the older you are, the more likely an injury may be. 



2. Shoveling Snow!

While #2 may seem obvious to many, a lot of people who are unfamiliar with snow, and even some that grow complacent in areas with lots of snow, are often exposing themselves to risk when shoveling snow. Lots of times snowy surfaces can feel stable enough to walk on at first, however, below the layers of snow is often a sheet of ice. When shoveling snow always be sure to remind yourself that just because you shoveled an area does not mean it is safe to walk on normally. Always exercise caution and have someone near by that can help you out if you fall and injure yourself. Being stuck in the cold with a sprained ankle or wrist without anyone around to help can quickly turn a situation from bad to worse. 



3. Winter Weather Driving!

Every year traffic accidents spike dramatically when winter weather comes to town. Although almost everyone is aware that they should drive carefully in snow, often times people grow overconfident in their abilities and it only takes one small error for everything to come to a crashing halt. Remember to drive slow, leave a large gap between your car and the one in front of you, check the weather before leaving, and never travel without a cellphone incase of emergency. If you can avoid driving all together during this time, that is the best and safest option. 

On top of the crash risk, the risk of a your car not starting is also heightened in the winter. Often times cars, especially older models, have issues in extremely cold weather. It pays to be well prepared - have a winter weather kit in your car with spare hand warmers, gloves, jumper cables, basic car maintenance items, and a blanket or two incase you find yourself stranded in the cold. 



4. Snow day fun!

Although sledding through a winter wonderland with your friends and family is a great way to spend the weekend, remember that winter weather brings with it a host of additional risks. This isn't to say you shouldn't go out and have fun, it just means your should be aware of the risks and be mindful of staying safe. 

Some of the most obvious risks of snow day fun are the slip and fall risks associated with running up and sledding down a snowy, slippery hill, or running around the yard throwing snowballs at one another. It is easy to get caught up in the fun and forget about staying safe. Being a safe doesn't mean you have to forego the fun, it just means you should keep in mind that an injury ruins the fun much more than taking an extra second to ensure you have a good idea of your surroundings. 



5. Grocery Runs!

Although things tend to slow down during the winter months we all still have to go to the grocery store every now and again. From driving to the grocery store to unloading the groceries at home, there are quite a few opportunities for injury during this routine task, especially during the winter months. If you can, always try to plan your grocery runs for a day when the weather is clear and the driving conditions are good. Take into account the driving tips from #3 in this list and be careful on the way to the store. Once you've gotten your groceries and have driven home, be sure to check your route inside for ice or slippery surfaces. Carrying an armful of groceries can throw off your balance and slipping and galling can be much more painful when you can't properly catch yourself. Plus, a bruised tailbone hurts much more when you take out a carton of eggs and a gallon of milk with it.