While North Carolina doesn’t usually experience as much extreme weather during the winter as many other states do, this actually makes it that much more dangerous when more extreme winter weather does occur. We aren’t used to it, so we’re more likely to be harmed by low temperatures, changes in traffic conditions, slipping on ice and removing snow. You may not deal with terrible winter weather very often, but when you do, you need to know how to prevent the most common personal injuries associated with wintertime.
Avoiding Exposure Injuries and Illness in Cold Weather
It is important to look out for the young and the old, especially in winter when they need to be kept warm for their health. Exposure injuries, like frostbite, can happen within just a few minutes of being exposed to extremely low temperatures, and the youngest and oldest of our population are at most risk of suffering from cold weather conditions.
The cold weather also impacts the immune system, making you more likely to get sick – which again, can be serious in small children and in the elderly. Most of the population might be able to fight off a cold, but some will end up with pneumonia or another serious condition.
We can all take steps to minimize cold weather injuries and illnesses by keeping an eye on our loved ones (and ourselves), making sure everyone is dressed appropriately for the weather, and ensuring that everyone has heat.
Avoiding Slip and Fall Injuries on Icy Walkways
When the roads and walkways get icy in cold weather, everyone is at risk of a slip and fall injury. As a property owner, you can prevent these injuries by making efforts to remove the ice from your walkways, shoveling away the snow, and spreading salt to melt the ice. Unfortunately, this is not always enough to catch every icy spot, and there are plenty of places where the ice isn’t cleared away and pedestrians need to be extra vigilant.
No matter where you’re walking on a cold winter day – whether you’re exercising, walking to the store, or just walking from your car into the house – you need to pay attention to whether or not the cold day is also an icy day, wear shoes or boots with good tread, and watch your step.
Avoid Injuries Caused by Shoveling on Snowy Days
Another common source of personal injuries when the weather is bad in the wintertime are those caused by shoveling snow. Most people try to accomplish this unpopular chore as quickly as possible, though doing so can create the perfect circumstances for an injury to occur.
It is very common for people to pull muscles in their backs, necks, and shoulders by trying to get the snow shoveling over with as fast as they can. Give yourself enough time to shovel the snow before you have to leave, and make sure that your legs are doing most of the work when you do. If you have a bad back, neck, or other ailment that might make you more prone to this kind of injury, seek out assistance from a friend or family member.
If you know someone who might find it challenging to shovel their own walkways without getting injured, make an effort to ensure that they have the help that they need.
Avoiding Injuries Caused by Auto Accidents in Bad Weather
One of the most common ways that injury occurs in bad weather, especially in places where the people aren’t as used to driving in bad weather, is through an auto accident. A lot of drivers will behave the same as any other day; some will adjust their driving to the conditions; and others will over-adjust their driving to the conditions.
For example, someone might drive more slowly than conditions warrant because they aren’t used to driving in bad weather and want to be extra safe. Yet, this very behavior might be what causes an auto accident. Others, who think they don’t need to adjust at all, might find themselves in a bad position when the weather surprises them.
The best thing that you can do is to avoid over-adjusting or under-adjusting your driving behavior, seek the middle ground, and drive defensively with an eye on the drivers around you. Watch out for the under-cautious, and be patient with the over-cautious. Make sure that you have solid tires for driving in winter weather, and be especially careful when visibility is reduced and when the roads become icy.
Preventing Injuries That Occur Indoors
When the weather is cold and dreary, a lot of people would rather just stay inside, and a lot of people do just that. Even when the temperatures aren’t extreme and it’s not icy or snowy outside, people enjoy the warmth and comfort of their homes.
In fact, the lack of snow can make that chilly winter weather boring, and will cause children to prefer to stay indoors as well since there aren’t any snowmen to build to sledding hills. For this reason, people who live in mild winter states may be even more at risk for indoor injuries than those who live in states with weather that inspires children to run out to make snow angels.
If you and your family are spending a lot of time indoors this winter, there are a few things you can do to prevent some of the most common injuries, particularly to children. For example, keeping cleaning supplies and other dangerous and toxic chemicals sealed correctly and out of the reach of bored children is extremely important.
You also have to pay attention to whether or not your appliances are childproofed, since games like indoor hide and seek could lead to serious injuries when a child hides in a dangerous place. Many parents never think to tell their children that climbing in, on, or behind an appliance is a bad idea, because it doesn’t occur to you that they’d think to do it. They could, and they have, so tell them not to and take measures to childproof the hazards in your home.
Were You Injured This Winter?
If you or a loved one were injured this winter, indoors or outdoors, you may have personal injury claim for compensation. Call the dedicated North Carolina personal injury attorneys at Remington & Dixon, PLLC to schedule a free consultation and learn more.
Brandon double-majored in Political Science and Criminal Justice at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He earned his Juris Doctor from Barry University School of Law in Orlando, Florida. Throughout his career, Brandon has received numerous awards and recognition from his peers and agencies that rate attorneys. A few of these awards are from The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyer in 2014, The National Trial Lawyers: Top 40 Under 40 in 2014, Nation’s Top One Percent: National Association of Distinguished Counsel in 2015, Super Lawyers: Rising Stars in 2018 and 2019, and North Carolina Business Magazine: Legal Elite in 2019, among others.