MILWAUKEE — Spending hours in bed is the reality for Rachel Starns. The single mother was on her way to work on Saturday when she slipped on the ice and snapped her ankle in half.
"My foot slipped and spun out from underneath me," said Starns. "I got a compound fracture with the bone sticking out from my leg."
Starns, a hairstylist, is now concerned because she will be out of work for up to 12 weeks.
"I'm very independent so not being able to take care of my daughter by myself and having to rely on people to help me has been very hard for me, but it's also been a lesson in letting people help me," she said.
At Ascension Columbia St. Mary's they have seen an increase in weather-related injuries compared to last year because of the wintry mix of weather.
"It's been very rough for everyone in Milwaukee have seen a big increase in heart attacks from shoveling snow and frostbite from cold exposures," said Emergency Medicine Physician Dr. Margeret Barron. "If you are out there and shoveling snow and feel light-headed, does have to only be chest pain, if you feel light-headed or nauseated stop and go inside."
During the Polar Vortex, Ascension Wisconsin hospital campuses in metro-Milwaukee and Racine have seen:
- 13 frostbite cases
- Three falls related to snow/ice
- Four hypothermia
- Three chest pain related to shoveling
- Six breathing difficulties due to cold air
Five of the frostbite cases were sent to the Regional Burn Center at Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s Milwaukee for treatment.
Dr. Barron said the proper way to walk on ice is to bend at the knees and walk slowly.
"You want to be loose and go one step at a time," said Dr. Barron.
Dr. Barron also recommends wearing good shoes with traction and salting the stairways along with the doorstep outside of your door.
If you are heading out, cover up entirely because frostbite can happen in five minutes depending on windchill.
Starns hopes others learn from her mishap.
"Make sure you are very careful when you're walking outside," she said. "It's extremely dangerous out there."
Family members have created a GoFundMe account for Rachel. To learn more click here.