Winter Weather Puts People at Risk for Falls - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Winter Weather Puts People at Risk for Falls

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It's not just driving in these conditions that can be dangerous. Just walking across icy parking lots or sidewalks can result in a serious injury.

North Dakotans are walking in a winter wonderland, but one wrong step, and that wonderland can turn into a danger zone.

"A year ago, [the] first week in January, I fell on a similar coated driveway and broke my elbow and had to have surgery," says Scott Macintosh.

And emergency room doctors say they've been busy already this week. Since the ice formed Monday, Bismarck hospitals have had more than 100 patients come in with injuries from falling on the ice.

"Every year, there's a big collection of people coming in with different injuries from falls on the ice. The most common fractures we see are ankle fractures, wrist fractures and hip fractures in the elderly people," says orthopedic surgeon Dr. Matthew Carpenter.

Normally, in an icy parking lot, a person would be shuffling around to avoid falling. But there are products out there that let you walk over ice worry-free.

"We have ice cleats, it's probably the most generic term for them. You can slip them on over your shoes, over boots, any type of footwear. They're basically going to give you a little bit more traction on the ice," says Tom Seifert, Scheels.

Ice cleats are definitely helpful, but that doesn't mean they're necessary. What's really important is the type of sole on your shoe.

"If you have a really slippery shoe, it's probably the type of plastic or whatever it's made out of on the bottom, that type of rubber that freezes and gets really hard and that on ice is going to be slippery every time," says Seifert.

Seifert says shoes with softer rubber soles that won't become too hard when frozen are best for icy ground. But if you do fall, doctors have some tips on what you can do.

"The easy things we talk about this rice principle so rest, keep off of it, ice it, little bit of compression or elevation. Those things can really help," says Dr. Carpenter.

Carpenter says resting and icing it won't work if it's serious, though. If you can't put weight on your injury, there's swelling that doesn't go down in a few days, or if there's any deformity, you should see a doctor right away.

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