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How to Stay Safe From Falls, Freezing This Winter
  • Posted December 27, 2020

How to Stay Safe From Falls, Freezing This Winter

Outdoor activities can help you keep fit this winter while staying safe from COVID-19, but you need to take precautions to reduce your risk of injury, an expert says.

Skiing and snowboarding are good examples. Falls are common in these sports, but proper technique and safety gear can reduce the risk of injury.

Each year, nearly 120,000 ski- and snowboard-related injuries are treated in U.S. emergency rooms, doctors' offices and clinics, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

"Ski season is coming and ACL tears are common," said Dr. Jason Koh, a spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. An ACL injury is a tear or sprain of the anterior cruciate ligament -- one of the major ligaments in your knee.

"Research has shown that keeping your arms forward and hips over the knees can reduce the risk of injury," Koh said in an academy news release. "Many injuries occur from falling backwards and the knee twisting." It's important to make sure your equipment is appropriately adjusted for your ability, he noted.

To prevent wrist injuries, which are common among snowboarders, Koh recommends wearing protective wrist guards.

Other winter activities can also be risky.

Each year, U.S. health care facilities treat more than 20,000 snowmobile-related injuries; more than 23,000 from sledding and tobogganing; and more than 43,500 from ice skating.

Koh said it's important to always wear protective gear and use it appropriately. If you're new to a sport, consider taking lessons.

Before you do any outdoor activity, warm up with light exercise for 10 minutes. Don't overdo activities, and take a break or call it a day when you tire, he added. Pushing yourself when you're tired can increase the risk of harm to yourself and others.

Know and follow all the rules of your sport, Koh stressed.

Seek shelter and medical attention immediately if you or anyone with you shows signs of frostbite (numbness and skin that is waxy or yellow, gray or blue in color) or hypothermia (shivering, exhaustion, confusion and slurred speech).

If it's an emergency, dial 911, Koh said.

More information

The National Safety Council has more on winter safety.

SOURCE: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, news release, Dec. 18, 2020

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