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For Release: Feb. 2, 2011
Contact:  Leslea Bennett-Webb
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Winter Storm Injury Update -- Caution Urged on Ice & Snow

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) announced this morning at least 123 winter storm-related injuries have been reported at hospitals throughout the state. Of this number, 77 injuries resulted from falls. Many of the most severe winter weather injuries occur from slips and falls, including simple activities such as getting the newspaper or checking the mailbox.

As more Oklahomans venture outdoors to clear their porches, sidewalks and vehicles of ice and snow, the opportunities for slips and falls increase. The OSDH urges caution, especially since thawing and refreezing of ice and snow will likely continue for several days. The elderly or those with poor balance should avoid ice and snow altogether. When venturing outdoors, be sure to take a fully charged cell phone with you in case you do fall and need to summon help.

Of additional concern is prolonged exposure to the extreme cold temperatures forecast for the next two days. Frostbite, hypothermia, and even death can result from exposure to cold, with infants and the elderly most at risk. When outdoors, wear layered clothing, a hat and gloves and cover all exposed skin to prevent frostbite. While indoors, try to keep at least one room heated to 70 F.

The OSDH also warns Oklahomans not to skate, slide, or sled on frozen ponds, creeks, rivers, or lakes. Although the water appears to be frozen, it may not be solid enough to support the weight of a person. Temperatures in Oklahoma are never cold enough to completely freeze recreational water.

Finally, remember that overexertion, such a shoveling snow or pushing a car, can strain your heart.

Additional winter weather precautions are available on the Oklahoma State Department of Health Web site at www.health.ok.gov.

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