It is a tradition in my family to count the number of Subarus that have gone into the ditch as we commute to work after a big snowfall. I believe the official record is 5 but we don’t keep a very accurate log. That’s no dig on Subarus (I’m a shameless Subaru lover and owner), but rather a testament to the follies of the confidence that accompanies a capable rig. Truth be told, there is just as much opportunity to count trucks, Jeeps, and just about every other type and brand of vehicle alongside the Subarus as we slowly pass by. These vehicles don’t find themselves there without cause. They serve as a reminder that it’s slippery out and the roads are often treacherous. The long Winters of Alaska provide ample opportunity for accidents to occur – whether with another vehicle, snow bank, or something else entirely. We’ve all been there ourselves or have known people who have fallen victim to the elements while driving. It’s a reality of living in this great state. That said, what should you do if you find yourself in that situation?
The number one thing to keep in mind should you be in an accident is to think about safety. Before exiting your vehicle, take stock of yourself (do you have any bumps, bruises, bleeding, or odd sensations?) and assess whether you have been injured. Provided that you are reasonably safe and unharmed, assess the state of your passengers. It is important to note that any difficulty breathing, severe pain, and/or heavy bleeding should be considered a serious injury until further investigated by a healthcare professional. If you encounter any of those signs and symptoms call 9-1-1 immediately!
Ok, you’ve looked around and everyone seems to be safe enough that they aren’t in any imminent danger. Engage your hazard lights (it should be a triangle shaped button somewhere on the dashboard) and carefully exit the vehicle. Many people are secondary injured by other vehicles when they exit their car because the same conditions that led to their accident may affect another driver – stay alert for other vehicles!
Survey the scene. Is anyone else hurt? Are you blocking traffic and if so, can you move your vehicle out of the way? Are emergency personnel needed? If so, call them. It is recommended that the police are contacted in all but very minor incidents. Do your best to assist anyone else involved in the situation and, if possible, help to maintain the resumed flow of traffic by staying out of the way.
The scene directly after an incident can be chaotic and sometimes we can experience a large adrenaline rush that prevents us from sensing everything accurately. What feels like initial shock can soon lead to excruciating lower back pain with sciatica due to a herniated disc. Whiplash and other cervical neck injuries often aren’t felt right away after an accident and instead can start to settle in within minutes to hours later. Think about how you (or your passengers) feel and monitor them periodically to see if any of them change, especially for the worse. Rapidly worsening symptoms could be a sign of serious injury and should be evaluated quickly. Do not be afraid to call an ambulance or go to the emergency room if you are unsure about how your symptoms make you feel. Better safe than sorry!
Lastly, once the car has been unstuck, or the accident has been cleaned up, consider getting checked by one of our doctors at Community Chiropractic Clinic, LLC for any injuries that you may have sustained from the incident. Auto accidents (even some minor ones) have a knack for causing injuries that can have a lasting impact on a person’s life, like a herniated disc. The sooner you are evaluated, the better chance there is for maximum recovery. Patients often sustain a variety of injuries including sprains, strains, concussions, headaches, shoulder injuries, neck pain, lower back pain, a herniated disc, rib injuries, and sometimes even bone fractures. A proper assessment and treatment plan will put you on the right path to feeling better again and delayed care can often complicate recovery. It is recommended that you be evaluated as soon as possible following the accident.
It is important above all to have our wits about us when our travel plans go astray. Even the best drivers can find themselves in a pickle, and it’s important to stick to the basics of accident-free transportation. Slow down, put the phones away, and adapt your driving to match the weather and traffic conditions. This little guide is to serve as a reminder of the importance of safety in an incident but there are other considerations as well. We recommend that you contact your auto insurance carrier (such as Allstate or State Farm) for specific instructions related to accident documentation and protocol. With a little care, we can all safely travel to and from our various adventures. When things don’t go quite as planned, Community Chiropractic Clinic, LLC will be there for you.
Have a great New Year’s and see you all next year!