Each year, when the winter weather is upon us, serious health risks start to occur, with all the associated injuries. It is important to understand what sort of risks are out there, and prevent yourself from getting injured. This way, you will be able to actually enjoy the beautiful wintery weather, rather than having to watch it from a bed in a hospital.
Slip and Fall Injuries
By far the most commonly seen injuries in A&E departments are slip and fall injuries after icy conditions. There are many injuries associated with slips and falls, including fractures of the writs and hip, as well as head injuries. If there is a real snow storm raging around you, it is best to stay inside. Do not venture out until you know that the roads and pavements are clear again. However, if you must go out, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself from slip and fall injuries. These include:
• Take small, slow steps when you go out.
• Wear warm footwear with extra insulation and make sure the tread on your shoe is made of thick rubber, which will give you extra traction.
• Be very careful right after a storm. It is often very difficult to see where the pavement ends and the road starts if there is a lot of snow or ploughed snow. Furthermore, because visibility is often poor, you are at increased risk of being hit by an incoming vehicle.
During the winter, there is also an increased risk of sustaining injuries when shoveling snow. It is common for injuries to occur to the soft tissue, the ligaments and the lower back. As people bend and are engaged in heavy lifting, it is common for muscles to get twisted. Hospitals also report frequent cases of broken bones, usually in the arms and hands. Children are hurt surprisingly often when running past someone who is shoveling. The can slip, stumble or get hit in the head. Also, you must be particularly careful if you have a heart condition, in order not to put too much strain on your heart when shoveling. In fact, you are putting too much strain on your heart just walking through the snow. It has been proven that nearly 10% of all injuries that occur while shoveling are caused by problems to the heart. Most deaths that occur while shoveling snow are caused by heart attacks. You must protect yourself from these dangers by:
• Taking it easy, with many breaks.
• Wearing boots with a slip-resistant tread and make sure you are dressed up warm.
• Pushing snow, rather than lifting it. Never twist and throw it over your shoulders either.
• Listening to your body. If you feel out of breath, start to sweat or notice a pain in your chest, you must stop immediately.
Also, do remember that snow blowers also pose risks. It is common to see injuries to the hand, including finger amputations as a result of using a snow blower. Some things to remember to prevent injury include:
• To not unclog the shoot by sticking your hand in it.
• To remember that the blades continue to run for a while after you switch the blower off. Blades are dangerous even when they have stopped moving.
The Legal Issue
With slip and fall winter injuries, it is common for people to look at whether or not they have a case to sue for compensation. So what is the legality of slip and fall injuries during wintertime? First of all, you have to have grounds for a lawsuit, which is only if the accident was caused because the owner or possessor of the property where it happened was negligent. It is often very difficult to determine whether or not negligent behavior has taken place, so it is best to speak to a legal representative about this. There is also the issue of your own care, since you do have to demonstrate that it was not your own behavior that lead to the accident happening.
The main issue is the owner or possessor’s premise liability. In both the United States and the United Kingdom, it is first important to determine just who has this liability, meaning who is responsible for maintaining the property. Premise liability is often very difficult to determine. A lawyer may also be able to prove that the person or entity who holds the liability knew about the dangerous conditions and failed to correct them. Lastly, it is possible for a lawyer to attempt to prove that the dangerous condition was present for such an extent of time that knowledge of it must have been present too.
How to Land
One last word of advice, if you are involved in ice falls, or feel yourself slipping, there are a number of things you can do to protect yourself. Ice falls are very common slip and fall injuries and although you may not be able to prevent all the slip and falls, there are ways to make sure you won’t get hurt too much. Unfortunately, because these accidents often happen quickly, it is hard to really prepare yourself. By wearing well insulated clothing, however, you may slightly cushion the fall. It is also very important to try not to brace yourself, because this will lead you to tense your muscles, thereby increasing the risk of serious injury.