December 27th, 2010
11:10 AM ET

Extreme winter weather increases risk of amputation and other injuries

Winter storms continue to paralyze the East Coast this week. The snow can be beautiful, but it can also be dangerous. Experts offer the following information to help keep you safe.

According to the most recent estimates from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are more than 590 finger amputations and 5,700 hospitalizations resulting from snow blowers each year, which mainly occur when people using the equipment fail to stop the engine before attempting to clear snow and debris from the machine. The CPSC offers safety tips for using snow throwers on their website. Also, for more information on what to do if you accidentally amputate a limb, check out this Empowered Patient article on what to do when body parts fall off.

Another common injury during winter storms is back strain from constant shoveling. The American Chiropractic Association says tossing a shovel of heavy snow can strain muscles in your upper back, lower back, buttocks and legs that are not used to being worked.

According to the CPSC in 2009 there were more than 26,000 reports of pain injuries resulting  from shoveling. The American College of Orthopedic Surgeons says shoveling can be a vigorous activity and you should approach it just like you would a workout – by warming up first. Here are their tips for preventing snow shoveling and snow blowing injuries.

For information on other winter injuries including hypothermia and frostbite, and what you can do to prevent them, check out this Extreme Cold Prevention Guide from the Centers for Disease Control and this Winter Storm Preparedness Guide from the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration.

soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Russell

    Obviously a very slow news day.

    December 27, 2010 at 13:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Burp

    I was wondering why I lost a finger every winter.

    December 27, 2010 at 14:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Jack Howitzer

    isn't the east coast flat? whats the problem? put on a sweater. the mountainous western US brothers laugh as you struggle. New York needs to settle down or you are going to hurt yourself, that "snowstorm" is what we call a minor "dusting".

    December 27, 2010 at 16:52 | Report abuse | Reply
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    "Where did you graduate from again, the University of DUH?!?!?", Stewie Griffin

    December 27, 2010 at 19:06 | Report abuse | Reply
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