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Winter Safety and Safe Snow Removal

 Water Safety - Richard Louis

By Dr. Richard Louis
Injury Prevention Coordinator, NB Trauma Program

Winter Safety

Take a walk, shovel some snow, build a snow fort, strap on your skates, or hit the slopes. No matter what you are doing outside this season, appropriate clothing can make the experience safe and comfortable.

Clothing choices are important while walking or running outdoors, especially at night. Remember to wear light coloured or reflective clothing, use a flashlight and walk on the left side of the road facing traffic, if there is no access to sidewalks. Being clearly visible to drivers helps decrease your risk of being struck.

Choosing appropriate winter footwear is important as well. For warmth and stability, the choice of a light weight, well-insulated, waterproof boot with a thick, non-slip tread sole with a low and wide heel can help reduce the risk of a fall.

For activities like skating or skiing, remember to wear a properly fitted CSA-approved helmet to help decrease your risk of a head injury. Helmets help reduce the risk of major brain injury such as a skull fracture, and should always be worn by both children and adults. However, they are not designed to prevent concussions.

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A concussion is a brain injury which can be caused by any blow to the head, face or neck, or a blow to the body which causes a sudden jarring of the head. You don't need to be knocked out to have a concussion.

People may experience many different signs and symptoms. Some common symptoms include:

  • General confusion

  • Headache

  • Dizziness

  • Double or blurry vision

  • Poor coordination or balance

The signs and symptoms of a concussion often last on average for 7 to 10 days. Concussion symptoms  can last much longer,  especially if you are 18 years old or under or have had previous concussions. Concussion symptoms are made worse by physical and mental exertion. It is important to be seen by a healthcare professional trained in concussion recognition and management to help you follow the necessary protocol for recovery from a concussion.

Snow Removal Safety

Snow blowers are useful machines that can make the task of clearing the snow a lot easier, but they are also potentially dangerous. Here are a few tips to help keep you safe while operating your snow blower this winter.

  • Do not wear any loose clothing such as pants, jackets or scarves which can get tangled in a snow blower's moving parts.Snowblower

  • Never use your hands or feet to clear snow from the auger, discharge chute or any other moving parts.

  • If the machine clogs while removing snow, shut the machine off and wait for all moving parts to stop. Remember to use the clearing tool that is provided by the manufacturer or a broom handle to clear the clog.

  • Do not allow children to operate a snow blower. The person needs enough size, strength, and coordination to comfortably reach and use the controls.

  • Keep children and pets away from the area that is being cleared.

  • Give full attention to where the discharge chute is aimed at all times to be sure that no one is in the path of the snow stream, which can also spew projectiles such as rocks and sticks at dangerous speeds.

By following these simple safety tips, you can minimize the potential risks associated with certain winter activities while maximizing the benefits of being outside during these cold months. For more information about staying safe in winter, please visit the NB Trauma Program website at www.nbtrauma.ca

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