Health Team

Slick sidewalks bring more slip-and-fall injuries to the ER

Posted January 9, 2017 4:44 p.m. EST
Updated January 9, 2017 5:52 p.m. EST

In central North Carolina, frozen precipitation usually tends to be more ice than snow, and that adds up to busy days treating fall injuries in hospital emergency rooms.

The fallout (pun intended) of weekend snow, sleet and freezing temperatures is streets, sidewalks and crosswalks that are very slick.

"It's been a little icy, but you know, I've been paying attention to the sidewalks and the black ice," said Tierra Smith as she made her way to work in downtown Raleigh. "Driving in my car, I've been driving really slow."

Even people who try to be careful can end up upended and calling 911.

WakeMed's Emergency Department reported 111 patients had checked in since Friday. Of those, many people were injured while sledding.

Others slipped while trying to walk on the ice.

"Far and away, falls are the No. 1 issue bringing folks into the emergency room," said Dr. Jonas McAlarney.

Most of those people suffered a broken bone, like an arm or leg fracture, McAlarney said, while some had head injuries.

As cold as it has been, McAlarney says he hasn't seen many cases of hypothermia.

For some people, the physical work to remove snow and ice could be too much.

"(We've seen) some cardiac issues related to exerting yourself when you may not have been used to exerting yourself in quite a while," he said.

McAlarney's advice is to stay indoors if possible and wait for higher temperatures to melt away the danger.

It is also a good time to check on elderly neighbors to make sure they don't have reason to risk going outdoors where they may fall on the ice.