Tips for Working and Playing Safely in the Cold this Winter
It’s January, which means we are in the thick of Winter here in Alberta! There are still a few months of cold left to go, and it’s almost impossible to not find yourself out in the cold at some point, whether working, playing, or simply walking to and from places.
That’s why today we want to focus on a few simple tips to keep safe and to reduce the possibility of injury when outside in the cold. They may be tips you’ve heard before, but we think it’s never a bad time to have a little reminder and to keep these suggestions in the back of your brain.
There is a reason why it is always recommended to warm up before an intense workout, and this is the same reason why ballet dancers are often seen wearing leg-warmers and layers all the time before going out on stage: warm muscles are less prone to injury. So when it comes to working outside in the cold, what should you do? Take the advice you’d get for any warm up when exercising: start slow and build up, to slowly increase blood flow to your muscles and get you moving before diving in at 100% to the task at hand. Alternatively, you can warm yourself up by suiting up in many layers before heading outside, and slowly take layers of as you start moving, get warm, and don’t need as much insulation anymore.
In our opinion, safety is cool, and being injured is not. Wearing a helmet when engaging in extreme Winter sports such as skiing, ski-doing, and hockey is an easy and effective way to reduce the severity of head injuries that may occur. In fact, making sure you have all the right protective gear is always recommended for activities outside. This may come in the form of making sure you have shoes and gloves with enough grip, strapping up knees or ankles with braces, or wearing goggles when snow or ice is likely to come at your face at high speeds.
When working on any sort of elevated surface, you know there is a risk of slipping and falling, so securing yourself is always proper practice. In the cold, when surfaces get slick and more dangerous, this is all the more important. If you feel more safety measures are needed in your work area, seek them out or talk to your employer about additional resources to keep you safe. You are an asset and deserve proper protection.
Find the Right Footing
In Canada, thousands of people a year suffer from slips and falls in the Winter. We all know the dangers, but it still happens. Yet, there are some ways to help reduce the chances that you will slip and fall, possibly incurring an injury in the process. First and foremost, finding good footwear with proper grips can make a huge difference, if possible. Additionally, wearing cleats or footwear spikes over your boots during particularly icy weather can make a huge impact too. Beyond footwear, however, the way we move over ice and slippery snow can also reduce our risk of injury. Stay low, and keep it slow: if you are close to the ground and have your weight spread more, you have a more steady stance when walking, and not only that, but being lower to the ground may be helpful to reduce the severity of injury if you do still slip. Also, always keep your eyes out for ways to reinforce yourself in staying upright. Any time there are handrails available, use them!
Clear the Way
We all know how important it is to clear our sidewalks after a snowfall, so that the snow doesn’t get tamped down into a hard icy sheen after people walk repeatedly on it. But also look out for other high-traffic areas around your home that you walk on frequently, and be sure to clear the way to make movement easier and safer. Do you have any areas that melt and refreeze frequently that cause a hazard? Consider finding new paths for drainage to reduce these hazardous areas, or take the time to chip icy areas away near your home that are in common areas for walking and movement.
All of these steps are no-brainers, but keeping them in mind and following simple practices can make a big difference when it comes to reducing the risk of injury in the cold months. Sadly, however, we know that sometimes slips, falls, and injuries do still occur. In these cases, it is important to know what your options are and to have a plan should this occur. Your supplemental insurance from DASH can provide you with the protection you need should you ever experience an injury, in Winter or otherwise!