The potential for accidents rises sharply every winter. Wet, slippery roads and poor visibility create conditions that are conducive for accidents. In such conditions, performing even simple everyday activities such as walking outdoors or driving can be risky. The freezing cold that makes it difficult for anyone to react quickly enough to avert an accident contributes to the high number of winter accidents. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to minimise the risk of winter accidents, at home, outdoors, on the road, or in the workplace.
Common Winter Weather Accidents And Injuries
Slipping and falling on snow and ice –
Slipping and falling on snow and ice is the most common cause of winter accidents. At night, when the visibility drops down even further, the risk of slipping and falling on slippery ice patches is even greater. If you manage to recover from a slip, you could get away with a minor bump or an ankle or wrist sprain. However, the injuries from falling to the ground could be far greater. Hip, ankle and wrist fractures commonly occur from trying to stop the fall. Head injury may result from hitting your head to the ground.
Shovelling snow –
Nobody loves shovelling snow from their driveway. For most people, it is their most hated winter task. The biting cold makes it even more loathsome. Unfortunately, it is unavoidable if you live in a home with a driveway.
The physical exertion and repetitive action involved in this task can take its toll on anyone who is not used to doing strenuous physical work. Injuries that result from shoveling snow could range from ankle sprains, knee joint pain and wrist sprains to neck tension, shoulder injuries, lacerations, fractures, and soft tissue injury in the lower back region.
Sleet, snow, and ice on the road make for really dangerous driving conditions. Unfortunately, you cannot stay indoors all winter. The best you can do to stay safe on the roads is to make sure that your vehicle is winter-ready and that you take extra care while on the roads. Vehicle collisions are not the only causes of road accidents. You could also suffer injuries if your car skids and crashes into an obstacles such as trees. Whiplash, fractures and spinal injuries are common after road accidents.
At work –
Some workers such as roofers, telephone cable maintenance workers and those who work on building sites are at higher risk of injury in winter because of the nature of the work. Falling from height, extended exposure to severe cold weather and using power equipment can result in fractures, spinal or brain injuries, hypothermia, frostbite, or electrocution.
What You Can Do To Minimise The Risk Of Winter Weather Injuries
Whether you are stepping outside your home for a walk, or to shovel the snow or you are getting into your car to drive to work, there are several things you can do to minimise the risk of accidents and injuries in winter.
Wearing proper footwear is crucial when stepping out to go anywhere in winter. Winter boots have soles that provide solid traction so you do not slip so easily on icy surfaces.
Spend some time warming up and stretching all your muscles before indulging in any type of physical activity. This is important any time of the year but more so in winter when your muscles are cold and tight. Diving straight into any activity without warming up will put you at higher risk of suffering cramps, sprains and strains.
When engaging in strenuous physical activity, it is especially important to take regular breaks so that your body and muscles are not over-exerted. Drinking plenty of water helps to keep the body and muscles well hydrated.
Wearing protective equipment is a must when participating in any type of winter sports. Most head injuries can be prevented by simply wearing an approved helmet. Depending on the type of sport, other protective equipment may include safety eyewear, appropriate footwear, or a chest-guard.
Walk slowly and carefully in shopping centres and malls. Although businesses and shop owners do take proper precautions to ensure the safety of their customers, it does not take long for the floor to get wet again as people walk in from outside.
Winter Weather Precautions When Driving
Driving in winter has its own set of dangers. While there are a few things you can do to minimise the risk of accidents, it is equally important to be prepared in case of any eventuality.
Here are some measures you can take, especially if you will be doing a lot of night driving or if you will be driving long distances:
- Check your tyre wear and pressures..
- Get your vehicle inspected by a professional. At the very least, get the brakes checked before you head out on icy roads
- Keep an ice-scraper in the vehicle right through winter.
- Make sure there is a fully-equipped winter emergency kit in the car. At the very least, this should contain jumper cables, a high-visibility safety vest and a pair of work gloves.
- Check your first-aid kit and replenish the essentials.
- Always, always carry a fully charged mobile phone when driving long distance.
- Check the windscreen washer at least once a week and replenish the fluid so the washer is always full.
- As much as possible, try and get home before dark.
Irrespective of where the accident occurred, if you have taken the necessary precautions and are still injured because of somebody else’s negligence, you should look into claiming compensation for your injuries. If you were injured in a work-related accident, you may be able to claim compensation from your employer. In case of a vehicle collision, the errant driver may be held liable for compensating you for your injuries. The city council is liable for winter accidents due to badly maintained roads and pavements and businesses are responsible for the safety of anybody within their premises.
If you are injured in a winter weather accident and think you may be eligible for compensation, you should contact an experienced personal injury solicitor to find out the best way to proceed with filing a claim.