Northern Westchester Hospital Emergency Room Is Busy During Bitter Cold

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Northern Westchester Hospital's emergency room has seen a high number of slip-and-fall injuries, as well as a few carbon monoxide poisonings as a result of cold weather. Photo Credit: Northern Westchester Hospital

MOUNT KISCO, N.Y. -- With temperatures falling below freezing recent days, emergency room doctors at Northern Westchester Hospital have been busy treating injuries from falls on ice, as well as some carbon monoxide poisoning.

"The biggest thing we've seen so far is a sharp increase in slip-and-fall injuries," said Jim Dwyer, the chief of Emergency Medicine at Northern Westchester Hospital. "There have been a couple people with broken bones, but thankfully nothing more serious."

He said with the polar vortex shifting temperatures from around 50 degrees to below zero, precipitation has been melting and re-freezing, leading to accidents. He said that people should be careful when walking outside, and remember to salt their driveways and walkways to prevent falls.

Dwyer also said that the emergency room has seen a few cases of carbon monoxide poisoning Wednesday. He said that this is typical during the winter time, as people will seal up their houses and run their heaters indoors. He cautioned people to be careful when heating up their cars, and said that they should make sure to run only run their engines outside, not in the garage. He also said that people should be cautious using their fireplaces, particularly if the flue hasn't been cleaned out recently. He recommended people should keep carbon monoxide detectors in their home to warn them of potentially dangerous conditions.

Dwyer said that the hospital has also seen a "huge spike" in flu cases in the past couple days. He said that while it isn't directly related to the cold weather, the flu can spread more easily when people congregate indoors. He said that the significant number of flu cases so far could be an early indicator that this year will see a busy flu season.

So far the hospital has not seen any cases of frostbite or hypothermia.

"I would have expected that we would see some frostbite, and I'm a little surprised that we haven't so far," Dwyer said.

Dwyer said that people should be careful when the temperatures get this low.

"The first thing I would say is that they should stay indoors when it gets dangerously cold outside. You can get frostbite in a very short period of time," Dwyer said. "Bundle up, cover all exposed skin, only go outside when you have to and don't stay out too long."

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