Press Release of the Day: Ice Can Make You Fall
The entire press release follows the jump, including the tip: "Keep your eyes on where you are going."
P.O. Box 570, Jefferson City, Mo. 65102
For Immediate Release:
January 28, 2009
Office of Public Information
Winter ice and cold increase slip and fall accidents in Missouri
Tips to reduce slipping and falling in icy and snowy conditions
Injuries caused by slips and falls in Missouri jumped by nearly 40 percent in December compared with such injuries in a typical month, new statistics from state health officials show.
The Department of Health and Senior Services found that Missouri hospitals treated more than 7,000 injuries involving slips and falls, up about 2,000 from an average month.
State health officials attributed most of the increase to icy weather. Steve Jobe, who coordinates the department's injury prevention program, said that on days involving significant ice and snow, injuries from slips and falls spiked to more than 400 a day.
Department Director Margaret Donnelly said slip-and-fall incidents are the most common injury of the winter. Falls can be particularly dangerous for people age 65 and older, who are the most likely to need to visit an emergency room after a fall, she said.
Safety experts estimate that one in three Americans over the age of 65 suffer a fall each year, and the risk of falls increase with age.
To minimize the risk of falling or injury during the winter, Donnelly and Jobe suggest:
- Keep both hands free for balance and not in your pockets.
- Wear foot gear with rubber or neoprene soles for better traction.
- Take small steps to keep your center of balance under you.
- Avoid carrying loads on stairways. Make sure that you can see over any load that you do carry.
- Keep your eyes on where you are going.
- Test potentially slick areas by tapping your foot on them.
- Step slowly when exiting a car or building.
- Keep your steps and walkways as free of ice as possible by using rock salt or another chemical deicing compound. Sand may also be used on walkways to reduce the risk of slipping.
When a fall cannot be prevented, several steps can be taken to reduce the chance of a serious injury:
- Toss the load you are carrying. Protect yourself instead of the objects being carried.
- Roll with the fall, and try to fall forward.
- Relax your muscles as much as possible if you begin to fall.
The injury data was compiled by the state's Electronic Surveillance System for the Early Notification of Community-based Epidemics, known as ESSENCE, based on emergency department visits reported by 84 hospitals.
ESSENCE is designed for early event detection and situation awareness. The emergency department visit data is based on chief complaints, such as the admission reason, not final diagnosis. The system was queried to look for all emergency department visits reported with key words related to falls, including slip, fall, ice or snow.
Visit http://www.dhss.mo.gov/ESSENCE/ for more information and for a map of participating hospitals.