Check Your Health: Preventing winter injuries

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Check Your Health: Preventing winter injuries (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) Not only does this time of year mean cold temperatures and fresh snow, it can also mean injuries if you aren’t careful. Mary Nickles goes through what you should look out for and how to prevent yourself from ending up at the doctor’s office.

Watching snow fall can be exciting and fun. Getting rid of it, is another story.

“Snow shoveling is a common cause of injuries and even death. Thousands of people are injured every year in snow shoveling events and even hundreds die each year from snow shoveling,” warns Dr. Shane Lewis, Trauma Medical Director at Intermountain Alta View Hospital.

Many injuries come when you aren’t dressed appropriately or when your body isn’t prepared for the physical task ahead. Snow shoveling can be a strain on the body, on the back, or on any of the body’s muscles. It can also lead so slips and falls as well as be a strain on the heart. If you aren’t careful, snow removal, whether done with a shovel or snow blower, can land you in the emergency room.

“If the snow blower jams, make sure it’s turned off, that the power is removed from it before you try to deal with the jam,” says Dr. Lewis. “And never, never put your hand into the area of where the snow blower is.”

Another winter-time activity to watch out for, putting up those Christmas lights. While they are beautiful, they can also cause injury.

“Somehow I ended up laying on the concrete driveway, knocked out cold, with the ladder by my side,” says Jared Rohatinsky.

For Jared, a fall while putting up Christmas lights left him with a concussion and four broken vertebrae. He says, if it can happen to him, it can happen to almost anyone.

“I like to think that I’m young and healthy and something like that would never happen, but just goes to show that all of us need to be quite careful when we’re working with this stuff,” says Jared.

He isn’t saying no to lights this year; instead, he’s taking additional precautions.

“You need to have someone assisting. Holding onto the ladder at the base and make sure we’re using proper safety precautions,” says Dr. Lewis.

“I’m just a lot more cautious overall. Thinking before I act, planning out my movements, and making sure that I have someone with me,” says Jared.

Snow and ice this time of year also leads to falls. Prepare by wearing shoes with good tread, watching where you step, asking for help if you need it, and keeping your hands free as well as out of your pockets.

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