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Research Article

Epidemic of fractures during period of snow and ice.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981; 282 doi: (Published 21 February 1981) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981;282:603
  1. Z A Rális


    During four days of snow and ice in which more than 70% of pavements in the Cardiff area were covered by slippery hard snow and ice the number of patients who attended the accident and emergency department at this hospital with fractured bones increased 2.85 times as compared with those who attended during four control days with comparable hours of sunshine and four control calendar days a year later. Fractures of the arm were increased 3.7 times and of the forearm and wrist 7.3 times. For a town population of one million people who may walk on untreated slippery and icy pavements this means that on average in a single day 74 more people than usual sustain a fracture unnecessarily. This traumatic epidemic has all the characteristics of a "major accident" and should be treated as such, since mobilisation of additional facilities, staff, and reserves might be necessary. Snow and ice injuries, however, differ from injuries sustained in a major accident in one important point: they may be predicted and prevented. The mass media should warn the population about the oncoming hazards and give practical advice on safer walking on slippery surfaces. The most important aspect of prevention, however, is instant cleaning of pavements around buildings, shops, and houses, especially in town centres and other areas busy with pedestrians.