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Be careful of black ice
Slips and falls account for 300,000 serious injuries and 20,000 deaths a year. Many of these could be prevented by taking some precautions in the winter/icy conditions. Avoid a visit to the Emergency Department. A few precautions can prevent a serious and painful injury!1. Although your hands might be cold, don't put them in your pockets when navigating wintry stretches. Keep both hands free for balance, and if you fall your arms will help to break your fall and land safely.2. Beware of that first step outdoors from your house/building, rapidly changing temperatures could change that previously wet surface to a clear invisible “black” ice. Test the surface before walking on to it. Beware of changes in walking surfaces.3. Think about the best route to your destination and plan on taking a little extra time to get there. 4. Avoid rushing or taking short cuts over areas where snow or ice removal is incomplete.5. Select appropriate footwear-flat footwear with rubber soles and some ridges/cleats provide better traction on ice and snow than leather-soles, smooth soles or high-heeled shoes. (Consider footwear traction devices such as Yaktrax, Micro Spikes, Etc.)6. Use handrails where you can.7. Take small steps to keep your center of balance under you.8. Avoid carrying lots of heavy items/shopping bags, especially on steps.9. Concentrate on the path ahead -- take your time, never run, proceed slowly.10. Check to be sure entrance halls and stairs are clear of snow and slush – tracked in snow and slush often causes slips and falls.11. Be sure to use floor mats when entering a building to remove moisture from the soles of your shoes -- this will help protect you as well as others to follow, from having to walk on wet slippery surfaces.12. Help your elderly friends and relatives on snow and ice. Slips and falls can be extremely dangerous for seniors.IF YOU SLIP: Try to /roll with fall/if you begin to roll forward. Sit down if you begin to fall backward-when the falling person relaxes, and injury is less severe than when he/she tenses. Fighting a fall on ice can cause twisting or bending injuries which may be worse than a bump a fall would have produced.Erik A. Larsen, MD, FACEPAssociate Director, Emergency DepartmentWhite Plains Hospital CenterMedical Director, Town of Greenburgh Police Department-Emergency Medical Services, Technical Rescue