Winter is here and snow has already covered many regions of the United States. With more snow and ice expected in the months to come, HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals want to ensure area residents stay safe when venturing outdoors.
Slips and falls can cause serious harm as conditions of roads, parking lots and sidewalks worsen in winter weather. They can cause injuries ranging from minor bruises, cuts and abrasions to more serious fractures, spinal cord damage and concussions.
HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals each see an average of 100 people each year due to winter-related slips and falls.
“Slipping and falling on ice or snow may seem minor but can really cause serious injury,” says Regi Geissler, registered nurse and assistant manager for HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals’ emergency rooms. “Whenever someone is outside in colder temperatures where sidewalks or driveway may be slippery, we urge everyone to take caution as it can be surprising how much damage a fall can do to any part of the body.”
Here are tips to be mindful of over the next few months to avoid slips and falls:
• Beware of wet, dark areas on the pavement. There may be thin, hardly visible layers of ice (black ice) on these spots as a result of dew or water vapor freezing. It is best to treat all of these areas as slippery in cold temperatures.
• Walk slowly and take short strides. Use handrails when walking up or down steps. Choose well-walked paths and avoid taking shortcuts since these areas may not be accessible for snow or ice removal.
• Keep your hands free and extend your arms while walking. Avoid carrying too much or placing your hands in your pockets. This will keep your center of gravity from decreasing and help to maintain balance.
If you do take a fall and need emergency care, call 911 or visit your nearest emergency room immediately. The emergency departments at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital, 900 W. Clairemont Ave., Eau Claire and HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital, 2661 Co. Hwy I, Chippewa Falls, are well-prepared to deliver high-quality emergency medical care 24/7.