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Ice Related Falls Cause Aches, Pain at White Plains Hospital ER

Dr. Erik Larsen, director of emergency medicine at White Plains Hospital. advises people to tread carefully when it's icy outside, (Courtesy Photo)
Dr. Erik Larsen, director of emergency medicine at White Plains Hospital. advises people to tread carefully when it's icy outside, (Courtesy Photo)
As temperatures continue to bounce up and down like a yo-yo, simply walking a few paces can lead to serious injury.

On Sunday, White Plains Hospital emergency room officials said they had as many 41 people come in during a one hour period for various falling-related injuries. Some of the people injured were simply walking down their front steps.

“Normally, we see roughly 5 to 10 patients every hour,” said Dr. Erik Larsen, director of emergency medicine at White Plains Hospital. “What you had [Sunday] was a perfect storm.. You had cold temperatures and it warmed up and the rain hit the cold ground. People were slipping like crazy--basically, we saw patients for breaks to every bone you could think of.”

Overall, more than 80 patients were admitted to the emergency room Sunday, but only one case of hypothermia was reported, Larsen said. That case involved a woman who had fallen and was left on the ground for an extended period of time.

“She was out there for about an hour,” Larsen said. “Luckily, she didn’t go into deep hypothermia.”

Activity has slowed down in the emergency room since Sunday and temperatures have warmed up, people are still reminded to be careful.

Below are some tips from the Snow & Ice Management Association:

  • TIP #1: Wear proper footwear. Proper footwear should place the entire foot on the surface of the ground and have visible treads. Avoid a smooth sole and opt for a heavy treaded shoe with a flat bottom.

  • TIP #2: Accessorize to see and be seen. Wear sunglasses so that you can see in the reflective light of the snow. Also, wear a bright coat or scarf so that drivers can easily see you.

  • TIP #3: Plan ahead. While walking on snow or ice on sidewalks or in parking lots, walk consciously. Instead of looking down, look up and see where your feet will move next to anticipate ice or an uneven surface. Occasionally scan from left to right to ensure you are not in the way of vehicles or other hazards.

  • TIP #4: Make sure you can hear. While seeing the environment is important, you also want to be sure you can hear approaching traffic and other noises. Avoid listening to music or engaging in conversation that may prevent you from hearing oncoming traffic or snow removal equipment.

  • TIP #5: Anticipate ice. Be wary of thin sheets of ice that may appear as wet pavement (black ice). Often ice will appear in the morning, in shady spots or where the sun shines during the day and melted snow freezes at night.

  • TIP #6: Walk steps slowly. When walking down steps, be sure to grip handrails firmly and plant your feet securely on each step.

  • TIP #7: Enter a building carefully. When you get to your destination such as school, work, shopping center, etc., be sure to look at the floor as you enter the building. The floor may be wet with melted snow and ice.

  • TIP #8: Be careful when you shift your weight. When stepping off a curb or getting into a car, be careful since shifting your weight may cause an imbalance and result in a fall.

  • TIP #9: Avoid taking shortcuts. Shortcuts are a good idea if you are in a hurry, but may be a bad idea if there is snow and ice on the ground. A shortcut path may be treacherous because it is likely to be located where snow and ice removal is not possible.

  • TIP #10: Look up. Be careful about what you walk under. Injuries also can result from falling snow/ice as it blows, melts, or breaks away from awnings, buildings, etc.

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