NUMC Advises Ways to Avoid Serious Injury or Illness During Snow Storms

Written by Long Island News & PR  |  22. January 2016

East Meadow, NY - January 22, 2016 - Nassau University Medical Center CEO/ President Dr. Victor Politi warns county residents that major snow storms can result in accidents or fatal injuries caused by failure to dress properly, shoveling snow or unnecessary driving on ice or unsanded roads.

The hospital advises that:

  • Hypothermia is one of the most dangerous conditions that can occur during severe snow and ice storms. In freezing weather, the body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced and the body loses its stored energy.  Body temperature that is too low affects the brain, making a victim unable to think or move well. Hypothermia can develop suddenly, without a person's  awareness of it. To avoid hypothermia, make sure that the outer layer of your clothing is tightly-woven and wind-resistant. Such items as wool, silk or polypropylene inner layers of clothing will hold more body heat than cotton. Also, remain dry. Wet clothing chills the body rapidly.
  • Shoveling snow can cause heart attacks, severe back problems and other ailments. An ergonomic snow shovel, that is, one with a curved handle or an adjustable handle length, will minimize painful bending, requiring you to only bend your knees slightly and arch your back only slightly while keeping the shovel blade on the ground. A small, light blade will reduce the amount of weight you are moving. Warm up before you begin. Cold muscles are more prone to injury than warmed up, flexible muscles. Bend at the hips, not the lower back, and push your chest out, pointing forward. Bend your knees and lift with your leg muscles, keeping your back straight. Keep your loads light. Grip the shovel as close to the blade as comfortably possible and avoid twisting your back to move the snow. Always pivot your whole body to face the new direction. Walk to the new location rather than reaching or tossing.
  • Wind chill is a serious factor when considering health and safety. When there are high winds, serious weather-related problems are more likely, even when temperatures are only cool. The wind chill index is the temperature your body feels when air temperature is combined with wind speed. Pay attention to wind chill indexes.
  • If you become stranded in your vehicle, remain with the car. Stay awake. This will make you less vulnerable to cold-related health problems. Run the engine for about 10 minutes per hour. Keep one window open slightly to let in air. Make sure that snow is not blocking the exhaust pipe. This will ensure against carbon monoxide poisoning. Keep your arms and legs moving to improve circulation.
  • If you discover symptoms of frostbite, such as numbness, waxy-feeling skin, or white or gray-colored area of skin, do not rub the area. Instead, get into a warm spot as soon as possible and gently warm the affected area with warm water. Do not use a heating pad as these affected areas can easily be burned.
  • Depression is a major problem during prolonged weather events that keep people indoors, particularly those who are elderly and living alone. If possible, make an effort to visit family or friends or invite them the visit you. If the weather is entirely too harsh pick up a phone and make a call to a friend or a relative.
  • Stock up on food, bottled water, batteries, flashlights, extra blankets and keep a battery-operated radio on hand.

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