As winter blankets the world in snow, let’s unwrap the secrets to a safe chilly season. Intermountain Health caregivers provided essential tips to help you enjoy a secure, memorable winter.
Helmet up for the slope
When hitting the slopes, gear up with a helmet. Slopes include skiing and snowboarding, but also sledding! When sliding downhill, you can run into trees, rocks, and other people. Intermountain Health recently provided free helmets to local sledders to emphasize their importance.
"One in five individuals who are out without a helmet will come in with a traumatic brain injury," said Wing Province, MD, an emergency physician and regional medical director for Intermountain Park City Hospital.
Helmets are a cozy shield for your head, protecting you from tumbles so you can enjoy winter sports without worries. They’re just as important as helmets on ATVs, bikes, and motorcycles.
Tread confidently with appropriate footwear
Icy sidewalks and slippery spots can turn a winter stroll into a challenge. Familiar paths change in winter conditions. Grabbing the mail or walking to your car suddenly becomes treacherous, and shoveling can be an injury waiting to happen.
“These kinds of injuries can cause not only small bruises or cuts, but also traumatic brain injuries which can be difficult to recover from, so it’s important that people take steps to reduce their risk,” said Tom Nelson, MD, emergency medicine physician at Intermountain Medical Center.
Navigate icy terrains with proper footwear and keep unexpected slips at bay. Choose boots or shoes with good traction to prevent slipping. Take smaller steps and walk flat-footed to maintain stability, especially with frosty ground.
Don’t be afraid to ask someone for help with shoveling your walks but if you are up to the challenge. Shoveling with proper footwear can even introduce some health benefits.
Winter-proof your vehicle
Winter roads pose unique challenges, but with some preparation, you can navigate them safely. Ensure your vehicle is winter-ready with these steps:
- Check your tires for proper inflation and good tread
- Ensure your brakes are in good working condition
- Keep your windshield washer fluid topped up for clear visibility
- Gas tank full – in case you have an unplanned wait in your car
- Carry a simple first aid kit, water and snacks
It’s also crucial to slow down in winter conditions. Give yourself time and space to react to changing road conditions.
“Some of the worst injuries we see are related to auto accidents, especially with inclement weather,” said Dr. Nelson. “The solution for this is really quite simple, which is just slowing down, don’t be in a rush while driving, and practice more safety behind the wheel”
Dress in warm, winter style
As the temperature drops, dressing warmly is your secret weapon against the winter chill. If you’re shoveling snow or just enjoying the outdoors, dress warmly. Follow these guidelines to best prevent frostbite and hypothermia:
- Wear multiple layers to trap warmth
- Wear a hat and gloves to keep your head and hands toasty
- Take breaks during strenuous activities, like shoveling, to avoid overheating
If you're going skiing, sledding, tubing, or snowman-making, make sure you're appropriately dressed to protect against freezing temperatures.
Understand avalanche dangers
Winter sports offer excitement but be aware of potential risks like avalanches. Stay informed about avalanche dangers, follow safety guidelines, and enjoy winter sports responsibly. Knowing these tips will help you have safe, thrilling winter adventures:
- Check reliable avalanche forecasts before heading into the backcountry
- Take an avalanche safety course and learn risk factors, safety measures, and rescue techniques
- Always go into the backcountry with a buddy – having someone there during an avalanche can be a lifesaver and let someone know where you will be skiing
- Carry and practice using essential gear like an avalanche beacon, shovel, and probe
“Following these simple steps can help reduce the number of injuries during the winter months and save families a trip to the hospital,” said Dr. Nelson.
By incorporating these simple safety measures, you're not just preventing accidents – you're ensuring a winter filled with cherished memories. Navigate the chill with confidence, warmth, and well-being.