The Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyers Discuss Why We Need To Be Careful In The Winter
January 6, 2017
Winter is the deadliest season, and it may not be for the reasons that you suspect. While we often hear reports of heat waves and summertime storms causing fatalities and injuries, it is actually the winter that poses a 20% increased risk for death over the warm or hot weather seasons.
A study that utilized data from more than 380 geographical locations in 13 countries determined that wintertime increases the likelihood of deaths by 20%. That statistic, however, is an international one. In the United States , the risk of cold-related mortality is roughly 10-15% higher than heat-related deaths.
It is not the chance of freezing or suffering from hypothermia that increases ones chances of cold-related mortality the most, though it does account for slightly less than 1% of deaths during the winter season. The study, which took into account and examined more than 70 million deaths and was published in a 2015 volume of The Lancet, revealed that the cold can cause fatalities 3-4 weeks after the weather has occurred.
Most of the deaths that occur during the cold weather are in people over 75 years of age. And, although vehicular accidents as well as slip and falls account for some of the fatalities, they too, along with hypothermia, do not make up for the majority of the cases. Instead, stroke, heart disease and respiratory diseases are in fact the most prevalent, cold-weather fatalities that happen in the U.S.
Many common illnesses, such as a regular cold, can occur during the chillier season. These common illnesses contribute to the increased risk of pneumonia, flu and heart attacks. The reason for the higher risk is that a person’s immune system is compromised while it fights off a cold, for example. While it is impaired and working hard to fight off one infection, its chances of succumbing to another increase. In other words, the lower temperatures and increased risk for common illnesses can unfortunately work together to raise the risk for serious, potentially fatal medical consequences.
Another contributing force behind the increased risk of cold-related deaths during the wintertime is blood clots. A wintertime blood clot is often the result of blood that has thickened excessively. Sometimes, a person’s blood thickens in the cold because overall blood flow lessens to preserve body temperature and heat. Therefore, more blood accumulates in central areas of the body. To allow for movement, the body puts out water and salt that goes from blood to tissue but leaves behind higher amounts of blood cells that then are at risk for clotting.
The result of a blood clot is often a stroke or a heart attack, which account for a large portion of the cold-related deaths that occur. And what happens when we stay indoors to remain warm? We become more likely to spread respiratory illnesses. Infections like the flu, common cold or pneumonia can jump from person-to-person, especially if someone is immunocompromised. A person who suffers from chronic, medical illnesses like asthma, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or diabetes is at a higher risk of respiratory infection.
Lastly, a number of cold-related deaths can be attributed to fire safety, an important topic that we have touched on in the past. Faulty products can sometimes be the cause behind fire-related mortality and at other times it can be issues with electrical wiring or even a homemade fire that gets out of control and is not properly cared for. You can learn more about fire safety tips in some of our other blogs.
Be sure to speak with your doctor if you have any particular questions or concerns regarding your health and ways to be vigilant, and we hope that you stay safe and well this winter season.
The Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Represent Victims of Winter Weather Injuries
The Philadelphia lawyers at Galfand Berger have successfully represented clients in many different practice areas. If you or any of your loved has any legal questions, an attorney at Galfand Berger, LLP can help. With offices located in Philadelphia, Reading and Bethlehem, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.