Oops! There Goes The Vertical Hold

by Rebecca Huber

Feel silly when you fall and kiss the pavement or the ice? I sure do. Seems it's not hard to do this year with all that sleet and ice­­ looks like today is no better. Instead of rain turning to snow by morning, it obviously just kept on raining. Not quite as treacherous as that Friday morning in January about two weeks ago but still all the same; the roads are slick and our sidewalks, driveways and steps are prime territory for the kind of fall that would win you the $10,000 prize on America's Funniest Home Videos. You know: feet higher than your head, skirt around your shoulders, wish you had a bag to cover your head kind of fall. Well take heed, we've all done it and we'll probably continue to strive to bruise our egos when the horizontal hold overtakes the vertical.

I know I fell three times last season in all that ice carrying laundry from my office. Twice I managed to fall on my laundry bag and only bruised my ego. The other time I looked just as silly as the first two times but I think I was lucky not to have cracked open my head­­ yes, it's probably too hard. My major early new year's resolution was to wear boots which was to avoid the main reason I fell so many times last year­­ trying to sneak around in those stupid little shoes. No more of that for me. I've got the big oversized clodhoppers out this year. So if I fall, (and confessing the truth, I've fallen once,) it won't be because of slick shoes.

I was walking to the coffee house during one of those beautiful wet snows we had, boots and all, and down I went, clean as a whistle there I was! The snow made a nice cushion and I thought I had gotten clean away without anyone seeing me and well, no one would be the wiser. But I forgot to brush my coat off sufficiently and when I got to the restaurant and ran into some people I knew the first thing out of their mouth was, "you fell down!" Guess I'm going to work on equalizing my horizontal and vertical hold buttons. Oh Well, I've been lucky and have not seriously injured myself or broken anything.

On the more serious side, many of us are not so lucky. Wrists and hip fractures are high on the list of serious injuries due to falls on the ice. Other high incidences from falls are broken fingers, arms, clavicles, serious sprains of all kinds, cuts that need stitching­­ especially the face and head, concussions and black eyes. I hope that none of you suffer any falls on the ice this year or have any serious injury but if you do remember to err on the side of caution.

First aid for any sprain strain or fracture is R-I-C-E. "R" is for rest or immobilization. Pain with movement can be an indicator of fracture. Don't risk moving the part or walking on it and doing further damage. "I" is for ice. Swelling is your worst enemy in fractures or sprains. It diminishes circulation and can dramatically increase your pain. "C" is for compression. Use an ace bandage if you have one which will further help reduce swelling and give some much needed support to the injury. "E" is for elevation. This, too, reduces swelling which in turn reduces pain. Always let the pain be your guide, if it hurts too much you're on it too much. If there is any question of fracture call your doctor immediately.

For cuts, apply a clean dry compress. If it is bleeding profusely, use enough pressure to contain the bleeding. This may cause some discomfort but it is important to stop the bleeding. Usually 5-10 minutes of steady pressure will suffice.

If someone is knocked unconscious from a fall, call for help immediately. DO NOT try to handle this one on your own. If they awaken, try to make them comfortable and warm but don't insist that they get up immediately. They may have broken something and will need a minute or two to orient themselves to any pain they may be having.

Okay, now I don't want to see any of you out there without your boots. This isn't your mother talking it's the boot Gestapo! We know who you are so don't even think about it! Got it. Have fun but above all be safe.

Till next time, Rebecca.

This article posted to Zephyr online February 6, 1997
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