Winter is here, and snow has already covered much of Western Wisconsin. With more winter weather on the way, HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals want to remind community members about some important safety tips to keep in mind. 
  
“We see a variety of injuries and illnesses as a result from severe winter weather each year, including those from motor vehicle collisions on icy roads, over-exertion from snow shoveling, injuries from misuse of snowblowers, slips, falls and more,” said HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals Emergency Services Director, Robin Schultz. “We encourage everyone to be safe as more winter weather approaches, but also want everyone to know that our HSHS emergency departments and medical providers are ready to care for you, 24/7, should you need us. Never delay emergency care – even amid a pandemic.” 
  
Tips to prevent slips and falls: 

  • Beware of wet, dark areas on the pavement. There may be thin, hardly visible layers of ice (black ice) on these spots as a result of dew or water vapor freezing. It is best to treat all pavement as slippery in cold temperatures. 
  • Walk slowly and take short strides. Use handrails when walking up or down steps. Choose well-walked paths and avoid taking shortcuts, since these areas may not be accessible for snow or ice removal. 
  • Keep your hands free and extend your arms while walking. Avoid carrying too much or placing your hands in your pockets. This will keep your center of gravity from decreasing and help to maintain balance. 

Tips for safe snow shoveling: 

  • Know if you shouldn't shovel. Certain people should avoid shoveling snow. If you have a history of heart problems, you should avoid this activity.  
  • Dress appropriately. Wear light clothing in layers to provide both ventilation and insulation. To keep warm, wear a hat, gloves and thick socks. Avoid falls by wearing shoes or boots with slip-resistant soles. 
  • Warm up first. Before you begin shoveling the snow, warm up your muscles for approximately 10 minutes by doing stretches or other light exercises. 
  • Use proper equipment. Use a shovel that is comfortable for your height and strength. Do not use a shovel that is too heavy or too long for you. Space your hands on the tool grip to increase your leverage. 
  • Lift snow correctly. Try to push the snow instead of lifting it. If you must lift, do it properly. Squat with your legs apart, knees bent and back straight. Lift with your legs. Avoid bending at the waist. Scoop small amounts of snow into the shovel and walk to where you want to dump it. Holding a shovelful of snow with your arms outstretched puts too much weight on your spine. Never remove deep snow all at once. Do it in pieces. 
  • Avoid overexerting yourself. Be very careful not to overexert yourself as you work. Pace yourself and take breaks often. It's a good idea to go indoors to warm up. Taking five to 10 minutes to relax gives your body time to rest. Pay attention to the signals your body is sending. If you feel pain or pressure in your chest, call 911. 
     

Media Contact

Karen Kraus

Communications Department
HSHS Wisconsin
Office: (715) 717-4747
Cell: (715) 717-4256
Karen.Kraus@hshs.org

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