We upstate New Yorkers are no stranger to freezing winters. But the recent Arctic Blasts we’ve been experiencing is enough to test even our endurance for cold weather. Glacial temperatures are not only a nuisance but can put you at higher risk for injuries.
Keep reading to review the three forms of injuries people commonly suffer in frigid weather – and learn how you can avoid them.
Space Heaters Burn Injuries
When the weather outside is frightful, it’s common to use space heaters to boost the temperatures in your home. But if not used properly – or if they malfunction – they can cause serious burns and injuries. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, space heaters cause approximately 25,000 residential fires in the U.S., 300 deaths and over 6,000 burn injuries each year.
To use a space heater safely, take the following steps:
- Don’t use a space heater within 3 feet of furniture, curtains or flammable materials.
- Don’t place your space heater on a rug or carpet; put it only on a level surface.
- Buy a heater with a tip-over safety switch, which turns the unit off if it falls over.
- Purchase newer models only, as they should have all the latest safety features.
- Plug electric heaters directly into the wall outlet. If you must use an extension cord, make sure it’s a heavy-duty cord of 14-gauge wire or larger.
- Don’t use an unvented combustion space heater indoors because they can produce dangerous emissions, such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide.
- Never use a space heater with frayed wires or that shows signs of malfunction, as a faulty unit might be more prone to cause fires.
Winter Sports Injuries
Sports are a great way to shake off the winter blues, but they can carry extra risks in extremely cold weather. If participating in an outdoor sport this winter, take care to:
- Wear weather-appropriate clothing, preferably lightweight layers. In extreme weather, hypothermia is a real risk.
- Warm up thoroughly before engaging in winter exercise or sport. Cold muscles are more likely to suffer sprains or strains.
- Carry an extra hat, pair of gloves and socks in case yours get wet.
- Never skate on a frozen pond or lake unless it has been officially test and approved.
- Make sure all your sports equipment – helmets, pads, ski boots, skis, etc. – is in good condition and fits you appropriately. Poorly fitting or poor condition gear can substantially raise your risk of injury.
- If there are winter warnings to stay indoors, stay indoors. Better to get a workout at home than to risk suffering serious injury outside.
Slips and Falls
As we discussed in December, slip and fall accidents increase in the winter months due to icy sidewalks and roads. In our previous post we discussed a property owner’s duty to keep their property in reasonably safe condition. Now, here’s what you should do to to avoid a slip-and-fall in icy conditions:
- Wear proper boots: heavy-treaded shoes with a flat bottom provide the good traction.
- Walk across ice and snow slowly, scanning the road ahead for icy spots.
- Watch out for the thin sheets of ice (“black ice”) that may look like wet pavement.
- Wear bright colors to help other pedestrians see you. (Bright clothes can also help motorist to see you and help avoid car accidents.)
- Walk on fresh snow instead of icy or compacted snow.
- Avoid taking shortcuts on your route: snow and ice removal might not have been performed there.
- Take short steps, shuffle or waddle like a penguin on an icy patch. It may look a bit strange but it can increase you stability or arrest momentum if you’re starting to slip.
If you suffer an slip-and fall or another winter injury due to the negligence of others,contact a Paul Giannetti. Your attorney can review your case and assess whether you have a viable claim. Stay safe!