Topeka ER & Hospital’s Chief Medical Officer Jared Schreiner, M.D., is sharing some tips and precautions for Shawnee County residents to help them stay safe this winter.
“Although we haven’t seen much if any ice and snow yet, when we do, those conditions require extra awareness to avoid injury,” Dr. Schreiner warns. He says ER visits for slips and falls on sidewalks and steps and in parking lots often follow a spell of inclement weather.
“Even the most cautious person can lose their balance on a patch of ice,” he says. “And when we lose our balance, our instinct is to extend our arms to catch ourselves, which commonly leads to hand, wrist and arm injuries. We also see many hip and back injuries as a result of slips and falls on ice.”
Dr. Schreiner advises that one way to avoid falls in winter is to use the “penguin walk” of slower, shuffling steps to help you maintain your balance on slippery surfaces. He also suggests making sure to clear away snow and ice from your steps and sidewalk then spreading ice melting treatments on them.
Winter driving is another place where ice and snow require extra situational awareness.
“We can get overconfident in our winter driving skills, and end up sliding off the road or into another vehicle,” Dr. Schreiner says. “slow down and give yourself plenty of room between your vehicle and others on the road. Speed is almost always a factor in vehicle accidents, and winter weather accidents are no exception.”
For those who end up in an auto accident, he advises seeing a physician right away.
“You may not feel like you’re that badly injured, but you definitely should get examined to ensure you don’t have more serious injuries,” Dr. Schreiner says.
One of the easiest ways to avoid a winter trip to the ER is wearing clothing to protect your extremities with hats, scarves, heavy socks, gloves and mittens.
“Keeping warm and dry in the bad weather is crucial” Dr. Schreiner says. “Continued exposure to the elements – especially when damp – can lead to frostbite, which is damage to multiple layers of your skin. If your skin starts to turn pale, white or lose sensation, this is a sign you need to seek treatment immediately.” If you suffer an injury this winter, Topeka ER & Hospital is open 24/7 — including Christmas Day and New Year’s Day — to provide you with prompt, compassionate care.