Winter in Pennsylvania can be treacherous. The bitterly cold weather mixed with snow storms, ice, wind, rain, sleet, and whatever else Mother Nature throws our way, can often cause serious, life-threatening injuries, no matter how careful we are.\nCharissa Pacella, MD, Chief of Emergency Services at UPMC Presbyterian, explains some of the common injuries around the winter months and offers some helpful tips for staying safe.\nSlips and Falls \nWe spend a lot of time walking around outside, and sometimes not in the best condition. \u201cA lot of times we see people who slip and fell on ice who just weren\u2019t paying attention, so it\u2019s always best to make sure you carefully watch were you step and avoid any terrain that looks like it might be unsafe,\u201d says Dr. Pacella.\nMake sure you also:\n\nEnsure your walkways and driveway are properly cleared of snow and ice.\nWear appropriate shoes or boots, selecting items that will provide good traction and stable footing.\nTread carefully, particularly at night, when you may not be able to see ice on the ground.\n\nWinter Sports Injuries\n As fun as winter sports are, fun on the snow and ice can come to a sudden stop with an injury or accident. Whether you\u2019re skiing, snowboarding, ice skating or sledding, there is always a risk for fractures and ligament damage as well as head and spine injuries.\nWarming up properly, wearing protective gear and using the right equipment will help minimize and prevent injuries on the slopes, hills or ice rinks.\nShoveling Induced Heart Attacks\nHeavy, wet snow can cause strain on the heart, especially for those who aren\u2019t normally physically active, are smokers, or who have heart disease or other health risks.\nIt\u2019s best to stretch out your body before even picking up the shovel.\u00a0 While shoveling snow, be sure to dress warm, stay hydrated and take frequent breaks if you need.\u00a0 \u201cMost importantly, don\u2019t ignore heart attack symptoms that include chest pain, dizziness, or shortness of breath,\u201d says Dr. Pacella. \u201cMake sure to call 911 if you think you\u2019re having a heart attack.\u201d\nExposure to the cold\nBeing out in the elements unexpectedly, or underdressed and underprepared can put you at a greater risk for developing hypothermia or frostbite.\u00a0 But even when under cover, hypothermia can still develop.\n\u201cYou should make sure your home is kept warm by keeping the thermostat set at least 68 to 70 degrees. If the home is kept mildly cool at temperatures between 60 to 65 degrees this can lead to mild hypothermia, especially in the elderly,\u201d says Dr. Pacella.\nWhen outside in the elements, hypothermia and frostbite can be avoided by wearing loose fitting, light-weight layers of clothing, a hat, gloves, insulated socks and water-repellant shoes.