The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

4045.0: Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - 9:10 AM

Abstract #70579

Injuries from the 2002 North Carolina Ice Storm

Abhishek Mehrotra, MD1, Joshua Broder, MD1, Judith E Tintinalli, MD, MS1, and Arvilla Stiffler, BS, RN2. (1) Department of Emergency Medicine, University of North Carolina, CB 7594, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-5794, 919-966-5643,, (2) Department of Surgery, University of North Carolina, 407 Medical Wing E, Chapel Hill, NC 27514

Introduction: On December 4, 2002, an ice storm caused loss of electrical power to more than 1.3 million households in central North Carolina. The purpose of this study was to identify acute injuries and illnesses directly due to the ice storm, that were treated in one tertiary care center located in the stormís epicenter.

Methods: Emergency Department (ED) and Trauma Registry charts from December 4-14, 2003 were retrospectively reviewed to identify ice storm incidents. Storm incidents were defied as falls on ice; or home injuries due to darkness; or cold exposure; or injuries from storm related damage; or thermal burns; or carbon monoxide/smoke (CO) exposure. The study was exempted by the UNC IRB.

Results: 131 incidents were identified: 47 (34%) storm damage; 40(30%) carbon monoxide/smoke; 24 (18%) fall on ice; 8(6%) burns; 3(2%) cold exposure; and 3(2%) injuries because of darkness. There were 7 life-threatening injuries: 4 spinal fractures, 2 intracranial hemorrhages, and 1 severe hypothermia. Of those with CO poisoning, 1 woman was pregnant and 14 were children under 18. 9% were >/+65. Ethnic groups involved were white 58%; Hispanic 24%; black 11%, Asian/other 2%.

Conclusions: Ice storm damage injuries and CO exposures were the commonest injuries. Hispanics experienced 24% of all injuries and 65% of all CO exposures despite being only 4.7% of the NC population. More effective mass communication is needed as part of storm preparation to explain how to avoid storm related injuries and CO exposure. These should be especially directed to ethnic minorities.

Learning Objectives:

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Injury Surveillance

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA