As of this week, winter has officially arrived. For those of us in colder climates, this news often brings a sense of dread. With extreme cold comes ice, slush and slippery conditions. Today, let’s take a look at avoiding dangerous icy conditions.
Before we delve into drowning hazards, we’ll start with a focus on avoiding dangerous icy conditions on solid ground.
To start, slipping on icy stairs is a deceptively treacherous hazard. To make matters worse, adults over 65 should take extra precautions to avoid dangerous icy conditions of this sort. According to the CDC, millions of people in this age bracket fall each year. In fact, more than one out of four older adults fall each year. Not only that, one out of five falls cause a serious injury such as a broken bone or head injury.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that young people are off the hook. Taking a tumble down a hard flight of stairs is dangerous for anyone. To help prevent this, add salt to any exposed stairs and walkways frequently. When traversing stairs, hold tightly onto the railing and take it slow.
Avoiding Dangerous Icy Conditions Behind the Wheel
When it comes to driving, icy conditions can make the roads extremely dangerous. The best advice is to take it slow. When the snow or rain makes it hard to see, pull off to the side of the road. It may take a bit longer to get to your destination, but it is a much safer option.
It may be the holiday season, but that doesn’t mean accidents don’t still happen. In fact, according to the National Safety Council, it is estimated that 115 lost their lives on Christmas Day in 2019. If you can avoid driving in poor weather and dangerous icy conditions, definitely do so.
Watch Out for Thin Ice
Finally, let’s talk about some drowning danger. Thin ice is a serious concern during the winter. It can be extremely tough to gauge just how thick the ice in a frozen pond may be. It could be the perfect skating or ice fishing conditions… or the ice could be deceptively thin.
Besides being trapped under the ice, another real danger of thin ice is cold water shock. In short, this is your body’s natural response when your body is suddenly submerged in frigid water. This bodily response causes you to automatically gasp for a breath of air. Unfortunately, since you are underwater, you’ll accidentally breathe in water instead of oxygen.
Furthermore, cold water shock can cause you to hyperventilate and lose mobility in your limbs. This can easily lead to drowning.
All of this adds up to needing a healthy fear of thin ice. In a nutshell, here is what to look for:
- Ice should be at least four inches thick for someone to walk on it.
- For heavier activities, such as driving a snowmobile over ice, it should be five to seven inches thick.
- If the ice is covered with snow, then double those numbers. Snow can act as an insulator and can weigh down on and adding stress to the ice. Snow-covered ice breaks more easily.
- It is important to notice any official notices nearby regarding the ice’s level of safety.
Read our full post about thin ice safety to learn more information about this topic. Knowing how to avoid dangerous icy conditions could save your life.