Slips and falls on winter ice are a common cause of back injury, neck injury and head injury, so caution is necessary during the winter months in climates where snow and ice are likely. Injuries to the extremities are also common.
Falling on snow or ice can lead to many different types of injuries, including sprains, strains, fractures, abrasions and concussion.
To avoid unnecessary injuries, try to do the following:
- Clear walks of snow immediately after it falls
- Remove accumulating snow every few hours during larger storms
- Remove ice on walkways, steps and driveways when possible
- Use salt, ice-melter or sand on icy paths and steps to improve traction
- Avoid wearing high heels and smooth-soled shoes
- Use shoes and boots with good traction and tread
- Purchase clip-on “crampons” that provide extra traction
- Keep sand, salt, and a small shovel in your vehicles
If you do fall, be aware of the symptoms of concussion, including headache, dizziness, inability to orient to place, abnormalities of memory or thinking, excessive fatigue, nausea and/or vomiting. If you experience these symptoms following a fall, seek medical attention right away.
Muscle strains are very common following falls on ice or snow. Usually, ibuprofen or other anti-inflammatory drugs are useful, as well as bed rest, and ice or heat application. If a strain does not improve within 24-48 hours, seek attention from a doctor or chiropractor. Acupuncture has also been shown to be effective for acute muscular injuries.
A fractured bone (likely to be the leg, arm, hand or pelvis in the case of this type of fall) will be very painful and you will require immediate assistance. In certain circumstances, a blow to the head could cause a skull fracture. If you believe you have a fracture, do not attempt to walk on your own. Instead, seek help from passersby or those in the area. If you have a cell phone, call 911 and remain calm until help arrives.
Winter injuries occur every year, but prevention is our best safeguard. However, if you are injured, seek appropriate medical attention as soon as possible.
Be careful out there!