Thaw brings slippery conditions, surge in ER check-ins

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A fairly representative picture of the situation on many Tallinn walkways at the time of writing, Saturday, January 15 2022.
A fairly representative picture of the situation on many Tallinn walkways at the time of writing, Saturday, January 15 2022. Source: ERR

The recent thaw has rendered streets, roads and other thoroughfares in Estonia hazardous, particularly for pedestrians, with many people being hospitalized as the result of a fall.

On Friday, around 60 percent of patients who presented at the North Estonia Medical Center (PERH) ER did so due to an injury sustained after slipping up on the ice. In many cases, the fall had resulted in a fracture.

Vassili Novak, PERH chief, told ERR that: "It was a very slippery day, with about 60 percent of injuries coming from ice and snow-related falls, of which about 20 percent related to fractures," Novak explained.

Across town at East Tallinn Central Hospital (ITKH) the picture was much the same.

ITKH spokesperson Inge Suder said: "It's important to take care, as slippery road conditions lead to more traffic accidents and falls with serious consequences for pedestrians."

Vassili Novak at PERH said the surge had not been large enough to overload his ER department, however.

While temperatures earlier in the week were in double figures below zero in many parts of the country and even in daytime, they are currently hovering around zero, and a couple of degrees above in western parts of the country, daytime. Since at night the temperatures fall below zero again, this sets up a freeze-thaw action which makes traversing roads, sidewalks etc. perilous, compared with colder temperatures where conditions are generally not slippery.

Home-owners and building-owners are responsible for keeping stretches of sidewalk adjacent to their buildings passable, but the extent to which this is carried out runs the gamut.

Tallinn city government: Call Mupo if a sidewalk is ungritted

Tallinn city government said Saturday that passers-by who see a stretch of sidewalk which appears not to have been gritted by the adjacent property owner and is consequently hazardous should contact the Municipal Police (Mupo) on 14410 to inform on them.

The deadline for gritting streets is officially 7 a.m., hence the phenomenon of the sound of sidewalks being cleared starting as early as two hours before that and with several hours of darkness still to go, in built-up areas.

Tallinn deputy mayor Vladimir Svet (Center) added that the "current system of road maintenance is unsuitable," after continued slippery conditions were evident in the capital during clear and sunny weekend conditions, which encouraged the public to be out-and-about.

This piece was updated to include information from Tallinn city government.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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