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Emergency rooms saw hundreds of broken bones last week

16:00 15/02/2021
People slipping on ice led to all kinds of injuries last week, but a warming trend will result in a balmy weekend ahead

Emergency rooms across Belgium were extremely busy last week, and not with new Corona patients for a change. The icy streets and pavements – not to mention the spontaneous ice skating – led to more than a few broken bones and cracked ribs.

Every A&E department saw at least one person a day – and often many more – injured after slipping on ice. Pedestrians, cyclists and ice skaters were particularly vulnerable to the conditions across Belgium last week.

On one day, the three hospitals in Antwerp’s ZNA network reported 90 people checking in with contusions or broken bones because of a fall. “There were both young people and older people,” a spokesperson for the hospital network told VRT. “We saw broken bones, contusions, concussions and open wounds that needed stitches. It got extremely busy here.”

Later in the week more hospitals saw patients coming in who had fallen while ice skating on one of the ponds and lakes in Belgium where it was allowed – or not. That saw more broken wrists and ankles. “It ranged from normal slipping on the ice to mountain bikers to ice skaters,” said an emergency room doctor in Herentals.

The difference in the number of such injuries was especially acute because they have been down so much during the corona crisis, when contact sports were kept to a minimum. The Herentals doctor himself is “an ice skating fan,” he said, so he wasn’t advising people to remain indoors. “Just be careful,” he said.

Temperatures climbing

Police in Brussels, meanwhile, made sure no one would wind up in the hospital from ice falling on their heads, as they shut down part of Rue Neuve at the weekend. It was the final day of the sales, so the shopping street was busy, and melting snow meant that heavy icicles were breaking off roofs and windowsills and crashing to the ground. “It seems drastic, but we decided not to take any risks,” said a police spokesperson.

Snow and ice will continue to melt away this week as temperatures in Brussels climb from below zero all the way to 12°C by Thursday. And get ready for a spring-like weekend when the sun will shine bright and the mercury will hit 14°C.

“Last week, winds came from the northeast,” explains meteorologist Frank Deboosere. “We got freezing cold polar air from Russia. But now the wind has changed and is coming from the southeast. Yesterday, it was 23°C on the Spanish coast. It’s that air that’s headed our way.”

The 14-day outlook shows those temperatures and clear skies heading into next week, to reach a high of 15°C next Monday and Tuesday. After that, temperatures will gradually dip again to a low of 9°C.

Photo ©Jasper Jacobs/BELGA

Written by Lisa Bradshaw