Snow & Cold Are Hazards For Your Hands!

Saturday, April 29th, 2017

Northern Indiana Hand and Wrist

Many around South Bend saw the first snowflakes yesterday.  Granted, they were mixed with rain and lasted only momentarily but were enough to remind us that winter weather is on its way.

Snow and cold carry real hazards for the hand.  The most frequent acute injuries I saw during the winter months of the early ‘90s were snow blower injuries.  When ice and snow clogged the auger blades an unsuspecting homeowner would reach in to clear the obstruction and end up with multiple tendon lacerations and finger fractures.  Today’s machines have several safety measures incorporated which have dramatically lessened the number of these injuries, but in an effort to be more efficient many people either circumvent or disable these features.  You may be tempted to do the same, but DON’T DO IT!  Twenty extra minutes to clear your driveway is a small penalty to avoid an injury from which you can never fully recover.

An even healthier, old-school alternative is to shovel.  Your back might hurt, your shoulders may be sore, and it might take an extra hour, but your hands will be entirely safe and your driveway and walk will be completely clear of snow, with sculpted edges that boast of your diligent labors.

Shoveling has its own danger, though: frostbite.  Prolonged exposure to the cold can cause constriction of your blood vessels, and your fingers can actually freeze, causing permanent damage to the tissues.  This can be avoided by using good gloves, keeping your hands dry, and going inside to warm up if you are getting too cold.

A shovel full of common sense, and awareness that even a stopped snow blower can damage your fingers if they’re near the blades are all that you need to keep your hands safe when the snows finally fall this year.

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