NYACK, N.Y. -- Although the first winter snowfall brings cozy nights and picturesque days, the uncertain terrain can cause a host of weather-related injuries. When it comes to these seasonal injuries, the top culprit is no surprise: icy slips and falls.
“People rush and they don’t wear shoes with good traction,” said Dr. Aleksandr Rakhlin, medical director of the Nyack Hospital Trauma Department. The result can be hip fractures and head injuries. “For elderly people on blood thinners, the bleeding that can result from a head injury can be devastating.”
To avoid slipping on icy surfaces, pedestrians should take their time, concentrate on where they're walking, wear shoes or boots with good treads and use handrails to prevent falls. For more active winter enthusiasts, the most common injuries are related to sports—sledding, snowmobiling, and skiing. “Sometimes kids will sled headfirst down a hill and hit something, resulting in a head injury,” said Rakhlin. “Or they sled down a hill onto a road, and are at risk of getting hit by a vehicle.”
To sled safely, choose a hill that isn’t too steep and has a long flat area at the bottom and doesn’t slide on a hill that ends near a street, parking lot, pond, trees or fences. Also, you should only sled during the daytime. For other winter sports, it's important to wear protective gear appropriate for your sport, including goggles, helmets, gloves and padding.
In the winter, simply getting the mail can be a challenge and cause unforeseen problems. “Shoveling snow is one of the most strenuous activities you can do,” Rakhlin said. “It’s often done by people who haven’t exercised the entire year, and then they decide to shovel the entire driveway in one hour. That causes a significant stress on the heart.” The key is to take it easy and slow, and to hire someone else to do the shoveling if you’re not in good shape.
To learn more about how to stay safe this winter, visit Nyack Hospital's website.