Beware of the ice!

What would be the right way to tackle thick ice?

Changeable weather is marked by a growth in accidents. What would be the right way to tackle thick ice?

O.Ivakina, Minsk

Ice is one of the causes of winter emergencies not only for pedestrians, but also for transport. When sheet ice occurs, the number of accidents on the streets increases considerably, causing injuries such as dislocations and fractures. According to the medical data, the number of victims doubles. Ice is especially dangerous for old people as it is a cause of many hip fractures, these are difficult to treat and have a long recovery period. If you are not confident walking, it is better to take a walking stick or a long umbrella as an additional support.

To avoid becoming a victim, follow these rules:

  • Pay attention to footwear: choose nonslip shoes with crepe-rubber soles. Fashion conscious ladies should avoid high heels.

  • Watch your step, try to avoid dangerous places. If it is impossible to go around an icy patch, then move on it as a skier does, making small sliding short steps.

  • Be extremely attentive to traffic on the road: do not rush, and do not run.

  • Try to avoid all sloping surfaces.

  • You should walk on the sole of your foot, slightly softening your knees.

  • If possible, hands should be kept free, try not to carry heavy bags, do not put your hands in your pockets as it increases the probability of falling.

  • If you slip, try to sit down in order to lower the height. At the moment of impact try to bend the legs, and, roll over to soften the impact against the ground. Do not try to save anything in your hands. Do not rush to stand up, examine yourself to see whether there are injuries and ask passers-by to help.

You are advised to try to bend legs when falling, try to fall sideways, instead of on the back or back of the head. When falling, people instinctively push their hands forward and consequently very often there are fractures or dislocations of the wrists or forearms. Legs, especially knees and ankles suffer quite often. When people fall on their back there is high probability of injury to the spine or even a fracture to the base of the skull.

The most important first aid is to assume the worst and immobilise the extremity in the position it is in. Do not try to straighten a hand or a leg, or set a dislocated bone which may cause further damage. If a person has injured a leg, it is necessary to immobilise it using an elastic bandage, or splint, which can be anything you have to hand: rolled up magazines newspapers, cardboard, branches or a board.

The most serious trauma from a fall is a fracture to the base of the skull, often occurring when a person falls on their back and hits their head against the ground. The victim may have lost consciousness, have a strong headache, nasal bleeding or heavy breathing, shadows may appear under the eyes. In head injuries there may be brain concussion. In this case the victim will have dizziness, cold sweats, vomiting and the skin may turn pale. There may be a short loss of consciousness.

When rendering first-aid, to avoid a respiratory tract embolism, the victim should be put onto their side. Check the site of the wound, if there is no open injury a cold compress can be put onto the injured spot, this will stop an increase in swelling and will alleviate the pain. With a head injury, foreign bodies may get into the wound. You must never attempt to remove them yourself or even touch them, since it can lead to serious consequences. Transporting the victim to hospital should be carried out only in a prone position. The head and spine should be immobilised and an ambulance called.

If there is no severe damage, then it is necessary to immediately put something cold on the affected place. During the few first hours after an injury, the main task of first aid is to stop any bleeding and to reduce the size of any bruise or hematoma. For this purpose, cold compresses or ice packs can be used and a tight bandage applied. It is recommended that legs or hands be kept in a raised position, to avoid compromising the blood circulation, the bandage should be loosened from time to time.

After 24-36 hours, cold compresses are not necessary. The injury should now be warmed. The patient is prescribed warm baths and dry compresses. Anti-inflammatory preparations can be used and pain killers if required. A doctor should always be consulted, as, what appears at first to be an insignificant injury or sprain, can actually be a crack in bone or a fracture, torn ligament or tendon and even internal bleeding.

By Tatiana Zhukova, Doctor of higher category, D.M. Ph.D.
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