Each year, hundreds of Americans are injured or killed due to cold, fires caused by those who use heaters improperly, and vehicle accidents on icy roads. With a winter storm on the horizon here in the Triad, here are some tips for avoiding the emergency room this weekend.
- For starters, don't drive in icy conditions unless absolutely necessary.
- Bundle up in dry clothing before heading out, take frequent breaks, properly hydrate, and listen to your body for signs of dizziness or extreme fatigue to help prevent overexposure, frostbite, and injury.
- Power outages are already being predicted this weekend due to ice. But taking charcoal grills or generators inside to heat the house is a no-no. It's already led to emergency room visits for carbon monoxide poisoning this season.
Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Dr. Michael Fitch says another major concern during winter storms is heart health.
"Certainly here in the South where we're not used to shoveling snow on a regular basis, there can be risks to that type of physical exertion," says Fitch. "Some of our patients who may have undiagnosed heart conditions may really put stress on their bodies by doing some vigorous physical activity like snow shoveling."
Fitch recommends taking it in phases, paying attention to sensations of chest pain, shortness of breath, or other symptoms that would suggest a cardiac event, and seeking medical help immediately.