All of our emergency rooms see injuries during winter weather. Most of these injuries are related to falls and can range from broken bones or fractures to head injuries and/or serious lacerations. Injuries to limbs or internal organs can also happen when people are more “adventurous” in unfamiliar weather and are not careful or observant in their surroundings. Serious cases such as traumatic injuries caused by car accidents often occur during inclement weather.
Here are a few tips for staying safe during inclement winter weather.
Outdoor winter weather safety
- Avoid ice. Walking on ice is extremely dangerous. Falls are the number one reason for injuries no matter what season. Many cold-weather injuries result from falls on ice-covered sidewalks, steps, driveways, and porches.
- Keep your steps and walkways as free of ice as possible by using rock salt or another chemical de-icing compound. Sand may also be used on walkways to reduce the risk of slipping.
- Dress for the job and stay dry. If you have to do heavy outdoor chores, dress warmly, stay dry and work slowly.
- Stay off the roads when possible. It is best to stay off the roads during an ice storm. If you have to drive, avoid traveling on ice-covered roads, overpasses, and bridges if at all possible.
- Never pour water on your windshield to remove ice, shattering may occur.
- Be prepared when you leave home. Stock each vehicle with at least a basic winter weather emergency kit. Recommended items include blankets, water and snacks, a first aid kit, ice scraper/snow brush, rock salt or kitty litter, winter clothing (gloves, hat, etc.), reflectors, flashlight, jumper cables, and a cell phone charger or battery bank. You can keep all of these items in a plastic bin for easy storage and transfer to other vehicles.
Indoor winter weather safety
- Gather your layers. Many homes will be too cold if there is a loss in power. Make sure you have plenty of blankets and layers of clothes to keep you warm.
- Stay on top of changing conditions. Listen to weather forecasts and check the temperature in your home often during cold weather.
- Keep pets warm and dry. If at all possible, bring your pets indoors.
- Use fire and electrical safety measures.
- Remember space heaters and fireplaces increase the risk of household fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
- If the power goes out and you need to use fireplace, wood stoves, or other combustion heaters, make sure they are properly vented to the outside and do not leak fuel or gas into the indoor air space.
- Never use a charcoal or gas grill indoors—the fumes are deadly.
- Never leave lit candles unattended.
- Retain heat. Keep as much heat as possible inside your home. Do not leave doors or windows open.
- Leave all water taps slightly open (so they drip continuously) when temperatures drop below freezing to help prevent your pipes from freezing.
Erlanger provides the highest level of emergency care for critically ill or injured patients at six regional emergency rooms. Our 24/7 services range from highly specialized care from the region’s only Level I trauma center — to lifesaving procedures from our Accredited Chest Pain Center and world-renowned rapid-response stroke team. No other hospital is more prepared for any emergency, or offers more to help our community receive the right care when the unexpected happens.