Whether you love the weather changes that winter brings or prefer to enjoy the season from the comfort of your couch, it’s important to prioritize your health and safety. Along with snow comes ice, slippery conditions, and below freezing temperatures in the Midwest. Protect yourself as you celebrate the holidays and winter season with these helpful tips.

First, as snow begins to pile up, be cognizant as you shovel that you aren’t pushing yourself too hard. It’s easy to want to hurry when you’re cold and miserable moving snow. Don’t overload the shovel with heavy, wet snow that might be more than you can handle. It’s easy to twist or turn the wrong way with too much weight and injure yourself. Take your time and if you’re recovering from an injury or prone to pain, consider a snowblower or snow removal service in your area.

Getting in the holiday spirit by decorating your house with Christmas lights? If you’re planning to hang them on your own, be sure your ladder is on a flat, non-slip surface and wear stable shoes with good grip. According to the World Health Organization, there are more than 164,000 emergency room-treated injuries and 300 deaths in the U.S. that are caused by falls from ladders each year. Safety is pertinent to protecting yourself from injury.

Finally, as Midwesterners, we know all too well about how easy it can be to get caught on a patch of ice. To prevent an injury, choose shoes that are made for wintery, slick conditions. It’s also important to take your time while walking from place to place, and even if your hands are cold, try to keep them out of your pockets to help with balance as you walk outside. At your home, keep salt or sand on hand to melt down sidewalks and driveways where there may be foot traffic. This can be a lifesaver for you and your family, along with any visitors.

The most important thing you can do during the winter season is play it safe. Whatever you’re doing, take your time. To give yourself the best chance at an injury-free holiday season, wear appropriate clothing, pay attention to what you’re doing, and ask for help when needed. With these tips in mind, you’re in for a safe and enjoyable winter season.