NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Winter weather means cold, snowy and slippery conditions that can cause a number of injuries.
As temperatures drop Thursday night, frostbite will be a risk. But as CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported, there are other weather-related injuries that can be life-threatening.
To prevent frostbite, or frost nip, cover as much skin as possible and don’t stay outside for more than a few minutes at a time.
Other serious problems can arise when people who aren’t in good shape try to shovel snow, or when people fall and sustain a brain injury.
It’s easy to underestimate the amount of physical exertion it takes just to walk around in the winter weather, never mind how hard it is to keep from falling, Dr. Max reported. Shoveling snow puts an even bigger strain on the body, especially the heart. Upper body exertion stresses the heart much more than walking or running.
If you have any underlying heart issues, do not shovel snow. The problem is, many people don’t know when they have a heart problem. So watch for the signs and remember that women don’t always have the same symptoms as men.
“There’s definitely a difference in the way men and women present with heart attacks. The classic findings of chest pain, shortness of breath and dizziness can occur with both sexes. But with women, we often see more symptoms of shortness of breath, nausea, sweating,” said Dr. Lawrence Phillips, of NYU Langone Health. “So we want to make sure that any symptom that’s occurring that’s outside of your normal feeling you have evaluated.”
That means call 911 – better to be safe than sorry.
The other health concern is falling. Slippery conditions can mean broken bones, especially wrists, as you try to break your fall. But the biggest worry is hitting your head.
“Head injuries are very common in this type of weather. When people hit their head, the effect can be immediate or can occur several days later,” Phillips said. “I tell my patients to always look out for several symptoms, including headaches, confusion, dizziness, any memory problems or feeling that they’re confused or more tired than normal. All these are symptoms that should warrant an evaluation.”
As always, prevention is the best approach. Try to stay inside as much as possible.
But someone has to shovel that sidewalk or driveway. That’s where hiring young, strong teenagers with shovels makes a lot of sense, Dr. Max reported. Or, if you can afford it, get a snow blower. Just keep your fingers away from the blades.