Preventing Hypothermia and Frostbite
- Dress for the Weather
- Wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. The outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent.
- Wear mittens over gloves. Layering works for your hands as well.
- Always wear a hat and cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.
- Dress children warmly and set reasonable time limits on outdoor play.
- Restrict infants’ outdoor exposure when it is colder than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Signs and Symptoms
- Watch for signs of frostbite. These include loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately.
- Watch for signs of hypothermia. These include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion.
- If you or someone you know shows any of these symptoms, get in touch with a healthcare provider immediately. If symptoms are severe, call 911.
Snow Shoveling Tips
- Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack – a major cause of death in the winter.
- Stop shoveling if you have shortness of breath, heavy sweating, or any kind of pain.
- Avoid shoveling if you are elderly or have a heart condition.
- Stretch before going outside to shovel.
- Use a smaller shovel and make sure your shovel isn’t bent, tilting, or damaged.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Be smart! Take frequent breaks, even if only for a couple of minutes.
Snow Blower Safety Tips
- Always start your snow blower in a well ventilated area to avoid possible carbon monoxide poisoning.
- If you haven’t used your snow blower in a while, remember that gasoline may still be inside from the last time you used it. Gasoline is only good for about 30 days, unless you’ve added a fuel stabilizer.
- Always make sure that the snow blower is completely turned off before replacing any parts.
- Fix clogs carefully. If your snow blower becomes clogged, turn it off, and remove the key before trying to clear it. Use a stick and NOT your hands to clear debris.
- If your snow blower hasn’t been checked up by a professional in a while, have it serviced before you use it.
Winter Fun and Sports Safety
- Helmet Safety
- Kids should always wear helmets when they ski, sled, snowboard, and play ice hockey.
- There are different helmets for different activities.
- Parents should wear helmets too. Remember, your children learn safety habits by watching you.
- Skating Safety
- Skate only in areas that have been approved for skating.
- Teach children to skate in same direction as the crowd to avoid collision. Avoid darting across the ice and never skate alone.
- Sledding Safety
- Teach children to only sled on terrain that is free of obstacles. Make sure the bottom of the slope is far from streets and traffic.
- Always use a sled with a steering mechanism.
- Avoid lying flat on the sled while riding downhill.
- Do not overload a sled with children.
- Skiing Safety
- Never ski alone.
- Use caution around lifts, control speed, and be aware of other skiers.
- Wear eye and sun protection. Ski helmets are recommended.
- Dress children in bright colors (not white) for snowy weather.
- Keep slippery driveways and sidewalks well-shoveled.
- Apply material for traction such as rock salt to avoid slips and falls.
Source: Boston Public Health Commission