Winter should be a fun season filled with sledding, ice skating, snowman making, and other types of cold weather joy.

To keep the winter happy and healthy, it is paramount to remember key safety tips to avoid winter-related injuries during the early part of the year. A little bit of simple preparation prevents painful injuries from slip and falls, freezing from low-degree temperatures, and common seasonal illnesses like the flu.

Here are some simple, but very effective, winter safety tips to help you and your family avoid winter and cold weather injuries this season!

Take breaks and bundle up when removing snow and ice

Snowfall may reach extreme volumes during peak snow season and can sometimes exceed over a foot during blizzard conditions. Make sure to bundle up in order to keep your temperature from dropping to a dangerous level. Remember to have at least an inner layer and an outer layer when outside in low temperatures.

When shoveling snow, it is equally important to take breaks to keep from over straining yourself. The risk of experiencing cardiovascular strain and possibly a heart attack greatly increases when shoveling heavy snow. Set a healthy pace when snow shoveling and make sure to go inside to warm up as well!

Get your flu shot and sanitize surfaces as needed

Seasonal illnesses including the common cold and influenza are more active in winter as the temperature drops. The body’s immune system weakens in cold weather, which allows diseases to contract easier within a host.

Getting the flu shot is the most effective way to combat the flu during the peak influenza season. A flu shot helps your immune system create antibodies that fight the flu throughout the season. However, the flu strain changes each year meaning that you’ll need a flu shot once a year to combat the latest strain.

Schedule a flu shot in advance, or as soon as your nearest clinic begins offering them, to best prevent the flu.

Additionally, you should thoroughly clean and sanitize surfaces in your home if a family member or guest has the flu or common cold. Regular hand washing throughout the day also helps to prevent the spread of germs.

Use urgent care services when it is safe to do so

Icy sidewalks and roads are likely to lead to slips during the winter. If a fall or slip leads to a minor injury, you should try and seek urgent care services.

Urgent care centers and walk-in clinics have the resources to treat cuts, sprains, and even bone breaks from slip and fall injuries. A walk-clinic also accepts most major insurance plans in your area or provides low out-of-pocket rates.

Take a little time to evaluate the severity of your injury and carefully walk, take public transportation, or have a friend/family member drive you. If your injury is severe or life-threatening, then make sure to go to the nearest emergency room.

A little awareness and prevention goes a long way to making sure your winter is fun and safe this season!