Every winter, unfortunately, the hospital sees patients that have had a weather-related accident. Here are some winter safety tips, taking it from the top down:
According to the Center for Health Policy at Indiana University, the myth that we lose most of our body heat through our heads is just not true. If that were the case, going without a hat would be the equivalent of going without pants. This is good news for those who dread “hat hair.” That being said, a hat will help you stay warmer. A long walk in the cold, snow or rain requires a hat for greater comfort.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that we dress infants and children in thin layers, which will help keep them warm and dry. People of all ages should follow this advice as well. Elderly individuals who are less mobile at home may be colder; getting up and walking about, even in the house, can improve circulation and increase body heat.
Proper footwear is a must during winter. In the event of snow or ice, women, especially, need to proceed with caution. Stilettos or very high-heeled shoes can be a hazard. In fact, falling off high heels is a common problem, resulting in sprains, strains and fractures. Using common sense about footwear—especially in the snow or ice—is essential. Wearing snow boots when going out and then putting heels on at your destination is a better option than wearing heels in snow or ice.
Boots with rubber soles or those that grip or create traction are good if you have to go outdoors. Black (transparent) ice, in particular, is something that everyone needs to be very careful about. Shoe chains that are worn over the shoe can be particularly helpful in the snow. (Caveat: Do not wear them in the house!) Designed in the early 1900’s, they work along the same premise as tire chains, wrapping around the shoe and providing traction in the snow and ice.
Finally, proceed with caution. Stay indoors in the snow, ice or heavy wind. We see a number of seniors who are blown down and fall due to high winds, and ultimately fracture a bone. Food can always be ordered in to your home. Better yet, follow the weather channel and be prepared in advance for inclement weather by having enough food, water and warm clothing on hand. Having a neighbor or buddy whom you check on or who checks on you is also a great idea!
When in doubt, stay in and stay warm!
American Academy of Pediatrics (2012). Winter Safety Tips. http://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/news-features-and-safety-tips/pages/Winter-Safety-Tips.aspx
Sample, I. (2008). The Guardian News. http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2008/dec/17/medicalresearch-humanbehaviour