Today’s ice storm highlights the need to be careful. Every time there is an ice storm Greenburgh residents fall. Some have lost their lives as a result of falls. Others have been seriously injured. Luckier ones have experienced more minor breaks/fractures.
If you have to walk outside be VERY CAREFUL—WE WANT YOU HEALTHY!
Last week I shared an e mail I had received from Erik Larsen, Associated director of Emergency Department at White Plains Hospital Center. His post—with suggestions can be found below.
I also received a letter from Daniel Blum, President and CEO of Phelps Hospital in Sleepy Hollow.
During the ice storm of January 20th Phelps treated almost 100 patients with ice storm related injuries. “ PATIENT COMPLAINTS RANGED FROM SOFT TISSUE INJURIES TO COMPLEX FRACTURES AND HEAD INJURIES. SIX PATIENTS RECEIVED MAJOR SURGICAL CARE BY EXPERT ORTHOPEDIC SURGEONS. WE ALSO NOTE THAT SCORES OF TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS AND MANY SERIOUS FALLS ALSO STRESSED PRE HOSPITAL EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES.”
President Blum stated in his letter to me that the following tips may be helpful if walking outside is a must:
“It is best to stay indoors and off the roads. Stay off paved surfaces and walk on grass or other soft surfaces. Move slowly with knees bent and hands out –not in pockets. Stay vigilant and wear bulky, padded clothing and gloves. When absolutely necessary to proceed across iced pavement on an incline, consider sitting down and sliding. Head injuries can be life threatening and some people may want to consider wearing a helmet, especially those who suffer from osteoporosis or those on blood thinners. Crampons that slip over shoes are sold widely now and can be helpful. Maintaining an active, healthy lifestyle contributes to core strength and good balance which helps on slick surfaces.
Erik A. Larsen, MD, FACEP is the Associate Director, Emergency Department at White Plains Hospital Center. He is also the Medical Director, Town of Greenburgh Police Department-Emergency Medical Services, Technical Rescue .
After ice and snow storms there are always serious injuries --and sometimes fatalities. BE CAREFUL! I asked Erik to write up some tips that hopefully you and your family members will review before you go outside.
Slips and falls account for 300,000 serious injuries and 20,000 deaths a year. Many of these could be prevented by taking some precautions in the winter/icy conditions. Avoid a visit to the Emergency Department. A few precautions can prevent a serious and painful injury!
1. Although your hands might be cold, don't put them in your pockets when navigating wintry stretches. Keep both hands free for balance, and if you fall your arms will help to break your fall and land safely.
2. Beware of that first step outdoors from your house/building, rapidly changing temperatures could change that previously wet surface to a clear invisible “black” ice. Test the surface before walking on to it. Beware of changes in walking surfaces.
3. Think about the best route to your destination and plan on taking a little extra time to get there.
4. Avoid rushing or taking short cuts over areas where snow or ice removal is incomplete.
5. Select appropriate footwear-flat footwear with rubber soles and some ridges/cleats provide better traction on ice and snow than leather-soles, smooth soles or high-heeled shoes. (Consider footwear traction devices such as Yaktrax, Micro Spikes, Etc.)
6. Use handrails where you can.
7. Take small steps to keep your center of balance under you.
8. Avoid carrying lots of heavy items/shopping bags, especially on steps.
9. Concentrate on the path ahead -- take your time, never run, proceed slowly.
10. Check to be sure entrance halls and stairs are clear of snow and slush – tracked in snow and slush often causes slips and falls.
11. Be sure to use floor mats when entering a building to remove moisture from the soles of your shoes -- this will help protect you as well as others to follow, from having to walk on wet slippery surfaces.
12. Help your elderly friends and relatives on snow and ice. Slips and falls can be extremely dangerous for seniors.
IF YOU SLIP: Try to /roll with fall/if you begin to roll forward. Sit down if you begin to fall backward-when the falling person relaxes, and injury is less severe than when he/she tenses. Fighting a fall on ice can cause twisting or bending injuries which may be worse than a bump a fall would have produced.
Erik A. Larsen, MD, FACEP
Associate Director, Emergency Department
White Plains Hospital Center
Medical Director, Town of Greenburgh Police Department-Emergency Medical Services, Technical Rescue
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