Winter Weather Safety- Urban Legends
Thursday, February 10, 2011




1.       Only the elderly and those with fragile bones need to be concerned about falls in snow and ice.   This is untrue.  The elderly are certainly at high risk for more serious consequences from falls on snow and ice, but everyone needs to use caution when walking on icy surfaces.  Ankle, wrist, and hip fractures, head injuries, and back strains are common injuries from these types of falls and can affect anyone.  Be sure to wear proper footwear in the winter. 

2.       You can’t have a heart attack from shoveling snow.  This is not true.  In fact, the incidence of heart attack doubles during the winter season.  Many shoveling snow aren’t physically fit and don’t realize how strenuous clearing the snow really is.  If you have a history of heart disease, always be sure to get medical clearance before shoveling.  If you develop chest pain or shortness of breath while shoveling, seek medical attention immediately.

3.       Helmets are not necessary for sledding and ice skating.     Helmets are actually recommended for sledding, skiing, and ice skating due to the high risk of falls and possible head injury.  Attempt to break falls with arms and hands are often unsuccessful leading to a high rate of head injuries.  Always practice safety first and wear a helmet.
4.       If I have symptoms of frostbite I should aggressively rub my hands together and warm them in hot water.   This is not true.  Rewarming of frostbitten areas should always be done gently to avoid further damage.  Always use WARM water to rewarm frostbitten areas and avoid cold and hot extremes.  This allows for proper restoration of blood flow to the tissues and minimizes damage.
5.       It is safe to ice skate on frozen ponds if the outside temperature is below freezing.   It is NEVER safe to play on or near frozen ponds or lakes.   It is estimated to take a thickness at least 4 inches of ice to support an average person’s weight.  Regardless of the outside temperature, these ponds are usually unstable and the ice is not the same thickness throughout.  Stay away from frozen ponds and lakes and avoid the risk of falling through the ice.

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This article was originally printed in the February 13 - February 26, 2011 edition.



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