COLORADO SPRINGS — When the weather turns icy and cold, emergency rooms can fill up quickly due to cold weather injuries.
In fact, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 137,000 people in the United States are treated at medical facilities every year for snow shoveling injuries,
The best way to prevent slips and falls is wearing appropriate footwear, whether it be snow boots or traction devices. Protect yourself by limiting the stress you put on your body. Be aware of your surroundings and go slow, and try not move too quickly.
"Start off shoveling slowly, make sure you're shoveling small amounts, and take as many breaks as you can," said Andrea Hedblow, an Urgent Care Physician Assistant. "Certainly stop if you develop any symptoms that can be heart-related such as chest pain, shortness of breath, and pain radiating to your arms or jaw."
Anyone outside for an extended period also needs to be alert for signs of frostbite and hypothermia. According to the CDC, frostbite occurs when the skin and underlying tissue freeze. The first sign of frostbites are; numbness, tingling, decreased sensation, changes in skin color.
National Safety Council recommends the following tips to shovel safely:
- Do not shovel after eating or while smoking
- Take it slow and stretch out before you begin
- Shovel only fresh, powdery snow; it's lighter
- Push the snow rather than lifting it
- If you do lift it, use a small shovel or only partially fill the shovel
- Lift with your legs, not your back
- Do not work to the point of exhaustion
- Know the signs of a heart attack, and stop immediately and call 911 if you're experiencing any of them; every minute counts