Ice still a hazard

Published 8:40 pm Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Those city road crews who spent countless hours over the past few days cleaning roads and streets were not alone in their snowy weekend work.

Emergency room workers at Sentara Obici Hospital prepared for the usual spate of snow- and ice-related injuries, as well as the typical weekend rush — but it never came.

“Because of the weather, I think people really took the precautions and stayed in,” said Kerry Greene, the nurse manager of the emergency room at Sentara Obici. “It was a little bit better than anticipated.”

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The Obici emergency room saw some minor injuries from weather-related car accidents, but nothing more serious, Greene said. With a winter storm, emergency workers typically expect to see broken bones and twisted joints from falls, pulled muscles and heart attacks from the strenuous job of shoveling snow, and maybe even hypothermia from people who enjoyed the novelty a bit too long.

A feature on ABC’s “Good Morning America” show the morning of the storm may have helped reduce shoveling-related heart attacks, Greene said. Many people do not think about the relation between the two, Greene said, but it becomes a problem when snowstorms hit the area.

“It’s huge,” Greene said. “A lot of times, because of the constriction and the cold, you get more short of breath, and people who already have cardiac disease, all of a sudden it can initiate the chest pain.”

Greene speculated the television feature might have encouraged people with heart conditions to avoid shoveling snow.

“It will melt as soon as the sun comes out,” Greene said. “You can always ask a neighbor to do it. If you don’t have any other option, limit yourself to small amounts of time.”

With some ice still on the ground, Greene encouraged people to avoid walking on ice if they can — but, if they must, to wear appropriate footwear, take slower, shorter steps, and bend their knees while walking.

“Take those extra precautions,” Greene said. “Slow it down and watch where you’re stepping.”

In the downtown area, the winter storm slowed traffic at some businesses, but some apparently saw no change other than being closed Saturday.

“We were closed Saturday, but since then we’ve been busy,” said David Carter, owner of Brandon House Furniture. “It was so messy Saturday we decided not to ask our people to come in. Yesterday [Monday] was busy, and today has been good,” Carter said Tuesday.

Stephen Gellas, owner of downtown restaurants Pisces and Primo 116, said the weather did slow business over the weekend, but it picked back up Tuesday, particularly because the courts were open again.

“At eight o’clock last night [Monday], you could have shot a cannon off in downtown and wouldn’t have hit anybody,” Gellas said. “But lunch was actually pretty good today, and with everybody going back to school tomorrow I think it will pick up.”

Italian eatery Amici’s, on East Washington Street, was not able to get its delivery Monday, and that has caused the restaurant to run out of some supplies.

“It puts us in a tough position because we’re out of a lot of products,” said Chris Riddick, kitchen manager at the restaurant on Tuesday. “It does affect business because we’re not able to give people the stuff they need.”

The restaurant was closed over the weekend because of the snow, which helped supplies from Friday’s delivery last longer, Riddick said. The store still ran out of ketchup and other food items on Tuesday.

“A lot of people like ketchup with their French fries,” Riddick said. “We can always go to the store and get that, which we’ve been doing, but it’s more difficult with more specialty products like veal and steak. It does put a damper on the business.”