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Winter weather health and safety

Tips from the experts at Prevea Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Green Bay, Grand Chute, Sheboygan and Oconto Falls

As we approach winter in Wisconsin, the experts of Prevea Orthopedics and Sports Medicine share their top tips to prevent some of the most common conditions they treat each year – from broken bones and fractures, to back strain, pulled muscles and traumatic hand injuries.

1. Walk like a penguin to avoid bone breaks and fractures.

Broken bones and fractures occur from icy slips and falls each year. Protect yourself when walking on slippery surfaces by:

  • Planning your route
  • Giving yourself enough time to get to your destination
  • Trying to stay on designated pathways
  • Being prepared to fall and falling correctly if you do
  • Keeping hands free and always using handrails
  • Choosing the proper footwear
  • Assuming all surfaces are slippery
  • Take short, shuffling steps and keep your center of gravity over your feet.

Remember to apply sand or salt to slippery surfaces, but keep in mind that salt will only melt ice if the temperature is 20 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer. When all else fails, walk like a penguin.

2. Watch your shovel technique to avoid back and muscle strains.

Done right, shoveling snow can be a great workout, but done wrong, it can lead to back strain. Here are few tips to help you shovel safely this winter:

  • Give it a shove: When possible, push snow instead of lifting. Specially designed shovels have a long blade with a pronounced curve specifically for pushing snow.
  • If you must lift: When lifting snow, bend at the knee, crouching into a slight sitting position as you scoop. Use your knees, not your back, to lift your body and the shovel upward.
  • The sooner the better: Shovel snow right after a snowfall when it’s still light and isn’t packed down.
  • Hydrate: Drink water. Staying hydrated is just as important during cold-weather exercise as in the summer.
  • Stretch: Do some exercises before shoveling – particularly if you are heading out first thing in the morning.

3. Be cautious with snowblowers to avoid traumatic hand injuries.

Improper use of snow blowers can cause serious injuries leading to a hospital emergency room visit. Injuries most frequently occur when users try to clear the auger/collector or discharge chute with their hands. Here are few tips to help you safely use your snow blower:

  • Stop the engine and use a long stick to unclog wet snow and debris from the machine. Do not use your hands to unclog a snow thrower.
  • Never leave the machine running in an enclosed area.
  • Add fuel to the tank outdoors before starting the machine; don’t add gasoline to a running or hot engine.
  • If you have an electric-powered snow thrower, be aware of where the power cord is at all times.

Prevea Orthopedics and Sports Medicine experts care for patients in Green Bay, Grand Chute, Sheboygan and Oconto Falls. To learn more, please visit: www.prevea.com/ortho

About Prevea Health

Founded in Green Bay, Wis. in 1996, Prevea Health is a health care organization that provides high-quality, primary and specialty health care in 80+ locations across Northern, Eastern and Western Wisconsin in clinic and hospital settings. It is partnered with six Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS) hospitals across Wisconsin to provide patients a system of highly coordinated care, close to home: HSHS St. Vincent Hospital and HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital Medical Center in Green Bay; HSHS St. Nicholas Hospital in Sheboygan; HSHS St. Clare Memorial Hospital in Oconto Falls; HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire; and HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chippewa Falls. For more information, visit www.prevea.com.

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