Foot injuries common after storms, hurricanes, or tornados
(Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg, VA – 6/19/15) – With storm season officially underway, a Northern Virginia foot and ankle surgeon reminds residents about the risk of serious foot injuries during disaster clean-up.
“In the aftermath of a storm, people just want to clean up the debris as fast as they can and get on with their lives,” says Steven Gordon, DPM, FACFAS, a foot and ankle surgeon with offices in Reston, Manassas, and Leesburg. “By taking some simple precautions to protect their feet from injury, they can make the cleanup go more quickly and more safely.”
Many hurricane or tornado survivors suffer puncture wounds on their feet. After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, foot and ankle surgeons along the Gulf Coast reported treating patients who injured themselves wearing flip-flops and sandals during debris clean-up. Some patients developed bone infections from improperly treated puncture wounds caused by nails and other sharp objects.
According to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons’ (ACFAS) FootHealthFacts.org Web site, puncture wounds require medical treatment within 24 hours to avoid infection and other complications from embedded foreign objects. Pieces of skin, sock and the shoe itself can be forced into the wound during a puncture, as well as dirt and debris from the object itself. If medical care is inaccessible, every hurricane survival kit should include first aid supplies.
“If you can’t get to a doctor, you can still irrigate the wound, apply a topical antibiotic, and a clean bandage,” says Gordon. “Then see a doctor for follow- up care, including a tetanus shot if necessary.”
After initial treatment, the ACFAS recommends puncture wound victims see a foot and ankle surgeon for a thorough cleaning and careful follow-up to monitor the wound for infection and to prescribe antibiotics if necessary.
Other storm foot safety tips include:
Watch where you walk. Debris and murky floodwaters can conceal sharp objects. Be careful standing on unstable surfaces and piles of debris that can throw you off balance, causing ankle sprains or fractures.
Wear appropriate shoe gear, work boots if possible. Don’t go barefoot. Avoid open-toed footwear like sandals.
Take precautions when cutting down tree limbs. One hurricane victim broke several bones when sawing down a heavy tree limb that landed on her foot.
For treatment of puncture wounds or other foot or ankle trauma, contact Dr. Gordon in the Reston office at 703-437-6333, Manassas office at 703-368-7166, or Leesburg office at 703-777-2101.