Icy roadNew York winters can bring extremely cold weather, wind chills, heavy snowfalls, freezing rain, and ice, all of which can present hazards.

As the temperature starts declining, it is important to make sure you’re prepared for winter-related dangers.  Here are a few common winter hazards and how you can protect yourself.

Hypothermia – Hypothermia is a medical emergency that occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce.  Hypothermia happens when your body temperature drops below 95 degrees F and can become fatal if not treated in a timely manner.

To prevent hypothermia, it is recommended to not only wear a warm coat, but to also bundle up in multi-layered clothing, and wear a hat and gloves to keep your head and hands warm.  If you are exposed to freezing rain, make sure to remove wet clothing and get warm by being indoors.

Frostbite – Frostbite happens when areas of the skin such as hands, toes, and the face are exposed to cold temperatures.  The skin is initially cold and red and can eventually turn hard and pale.  Being outside in the snow or rain can lead to permanent skin and nerve damage if not treated properly.

To prevent frostbite, avoid touching ice and frozen metal objects, stay indoors when the temperature falls below 5 degrees F, and if you are planning to be outside, make sure you are wearing appropriate, protective clothing for cold weather and chilly winds.

The Common Cold – Being around sick people exposes you to bacteria that can cause you to get sick.  This may leave you with a runny or stuffy nose, dry cough, and constant sneezing.

To prevent getting sick with a cold, avoid contact with people who are contagious, practice frequent hand washing, drink plenty of fluids, and get proper rest.

Auto Injury – Ice forms when the road is wet and the temperature drops below freezing point.  The icy surface can prevent your tires from having a good grip on the road and can make your car spin out of control.

To prevent accidents on slippery roads, drive slower than you normally would, increase stopping distance to avoid rear-ending someone, keep your windshield and windows clear, and give yourself extra time to get to your destination.  During the snowy season, you should always keep salt or kitty litter and a shovel in your trunk in the case that your car gets stuck in the snow.  You should also stock up on emergency supplies to keep in your car such as a first-aid kit, window washer fluid, tool hit, blanket, water.

Slip and Fall – Along with icy being hazardous to drivers, it can also be a hazard if you’re a pedestrian.  Slip and fall accidents usually occur when ice on sidewalks can seem like wet surfaces from far away, or if the sidewalk wasn’t cleared off properly by snow plows and salted or sanded.  Slipping on ice can lead to seeking medical attention if you get injured.

To prevent slipping on ice, make sure you’re wearing shoes that have a good grip and walk slow in icy areas, as black ice is hard to detect.