Winter storms and the accompanying hail, freezing rain, snow, and high winds can lead not only to property damage but also to personal injury. To avoid falling victim to broken bones and other injuries this winter, local residents must be aware of the potential dangers that winter weather brings so that they take steps to protect against harm.
Frostbite occurs when the skin and the tissue beneath freeze. Signs of frostbite include numbness, skin discoloration, and the presence of a hard or waxy appearance to the skin. The three stages of this condition are frostnip, superficial frostbite, and deep frostbite; while frostnip can be treated by rewarming the affected areas, superficial frostbite and deep frostbite must be treated by a medical professional.
Wind chill is a factor that contributes to the speed of frostbite onset. According to the National Weather Service, “Wind chill is the air temperature the skin feels when it is exposed to the wind. The wind chill temperature is always lower than the actual air temperature. The wind chill is dependent on air temperature and wind speeds with the colder the air temperature and the higher the wind speed, the colder the wind chill. Exposure to very low wind chills will allow for frostbite to take effect in a much shorter amount of time than higher wind chills.”
Classified as a medical emergency, hypothermia describes the condition of losing body heat faster than the body can generate warmth, which causes a person’s temperature to drop below 95 F. For comparison, the typical healthy temperature is approximately 98.6 F. The dangerously low temperatures caused by hypothermia can lead to organ failure and, if untreated, death. Hypothermia frequently results from cold weather exposure, as well as being immersed in icy water.
The presence of icy surfaces makes slip-and-fall injuries a real concern. Taking a tumble on a slippery patch of ice could result in an injury as mild as a few bruises or as severe as several broken bones. Falling is of particular concern for the elderly, who are more susceptible to sustaining broken bones.
The National Floor Safety Institute provides the following slip-and-fall statistics: “Falls account for over 8 million hospital emergency room visits, representing the leading cause of visits (21.3%). Slips and falls account for over 1 million visits or 12% of total falls. Fractures are the most serious consequences of falls and occur in 5% of all people who fall….Of all fractures from falls, hip fractures are the most serious and lead to the greatest health problems and number of deaths.”
To stay warm during winter storms, some homeowners turn to portable space heaters, fireplaces, wood stoves, and candles to keep out the cold. However, improper or careless use of heating devices can lead to burn injuries and potentially a house fire that causes extensive fire damage.
Burns are commonly categorized by three levels of severity — first-degree burns, second-degree burns, and third-degree burns. The Mayo Clinic advises, “The treatment of burns depends on the location and severity of the damage. Sunburns and small scalds can usually be treated at home. Deep or widespread burns need immediate medical attention.”
Who to Call When Winter Storms Damage a Home
If a tree weighed down by ice and snow falls on the roof of a home, the gaping hole in the roof allows snow, sleet, and freezing rain into the house, causing a water damage disaster when these icy substances melt. The stress, anxiety, confusion, and fear that result from winter storm damage can be overwhelming, especially if a family member has been injured.
When clients call on SERVPRO of Media for flood damage restoration, the team of technicians delivers a compassionate, considerate, and caring response that relieves stress and gives confidence and hope to victims of winter storm damage. The damage restoration company provides emergency service and responds rapidly 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year, even on holidays. Whether homeowners need water, fire, smoke, mold, or storm damage restoration services, they can turn to SERVPRO of Media to remediate the damage so that life can return to normal.