Advice

Snow, slips and broken wrists

It’s snowing!! This is great fun and massively exciting as it rarely snows in Cornwall.

I spent the morning teaching first aid at Falmouth Marina and had an incredible view watching the snow settling over the boats. When the course was done, I took my kit, little by little, back to the van, mindful about the risk of slipping in the snow and damaging equipment! After making sure I could see (clearing the windows and the mirrors!) and could be seen (scrapping snow off the lights, front and rear), I started on my slow drive home.

A common thing for people to do in the snow -other than make snow men and throw snowballs- is to slip over. I’m reminded of this by people on every social media platform today! In addition to the bruised pride and bottom, there is a risk of broken bones, and in particular, broken wrists.

How to tell if you might have a broken wrist

  • Pain, it usually hurts, remember that pain killers and nerve damage can mask pain.
  • Loss of power, so they may not be able to move that wrist.
  • Unnatural movement-if you spot this, do your best to prevent it.
  • Swelling or bruising around the site of the injury.
  • Deformity, if it’s bent in the wrong place, it’s probably broken!
  • Irregularity means lumps or depressions in the skin where the ends of the bones overlap.
  • The sound of bone rubbing against bone (also known as crepitus!)
  • Tenderness at the site of the injury.

How can you manage a broken wrist?

Someone will immediately feel more comfortable if the wrist is immobilized and supported. This is best done with an arm sling, but simply tucking it inside a coat can work well. Padding can be put in as a support if needed using a towel or any other material you have around. Even holding it will be a good way of reducing the pain and stopping movement if the casualty can’t tolerate a sling,

The casualty will need to go to a minor injuries unit or emergency department to have the injury assessed and treated.

What about that bruise (or contusion)? Your main aim is to reduce the swelling. To do this, the best thing you can do is apply an ice pack (or frozen peas!) wrapped in a tea towel or something similar.

And the pride…There’s no treatment for that in any first aid manual. We’d recommend a cuppa, a book and a nice bit of cake!

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