Commentary

Flip-Flops Are Killers

By PAT JOHNSON | Aug 21, 2019
Artwork by: Pat Johnson

They are so easy to wear and so cute and cool and so right for the shore, but unless you have the agility of a ballet dancer or a gymnast, flip-flops can prove to be a dangerous choice, especially for the over-60 crowd.

Take my own example of ineptitude: a rushed afternoon to make an appointment, an outdoor rug with a bump in it, hands full of gardening tools and a sharp twist to the left where one flip-flop crossed the other and sent me plummeting facedown into my yard stones.

Stunned, with a bloody nose and a split lip, I told myself, “Oh my God, I’ve broken my nose!” Cold water from the garden hose relieved the pain and brought me into sharper focus when I realized  that the faucet of my nose was not shutting off – an aspirin regiment for another problem was not letting my blood clot.

With a bloody kitchen towel, I arrived at the urgent care facility where I was told they would probably have to “ship me” to the hospital. Yes, the ambulance arrived and, to my chagrin, the two ambulance workers had to shift me from the hospital bed to the stretcher, all 2** pounds of me. “I’m so sorry,” I said, apologizing for all those nights eating not so low-fat popcorn. “Flip-flop accident, eh,” said the EMT. “We see a lot of these, kids and adults.”

Arriving at the emergency room, a nurse crowed, “Not another bloody nose!” and I was shunted to a private stall to await treatment. It came, and five hours later, after a CAT scan – neither my nose nor my crown was broken – I was discharged with a “tampon” in my sinuses (that’s what it looked like) and six tiny stitches in my lip. The stitches were expertly made by a nurse practitioner. I was told the doctor would see me, but unless that was the last person who came in to check my vitals, I never did see the doc. Didn’t matter, the nurse practitioner did a great job.

While I was waiting to have my head examined by the giant womb-like CAT scanner, the technician shared that he had had an accident due to his flip-flops. He said in words like these: “I was walking my dog in the rain, a car was approaching and I wanted to get a good grip on the leash, when I slipped off my flip-flops and scraped my forearm on the road. I still have the scars, and the dog wasn’t even interested.”

Hmmm.

The weekend ruined, I saw my family doctor on Monday to get the packing out of my nose.

“I can’t tell you how many times we see people who have fallen because of flip-flops,” he said. “Kids and adults, sprains, scrapes – it’s a problem.”

OK, I have a story. So I went to the internet.

Apparently the U.S.has not yet woken up to the danger lurking in our footwear, unless you want to count the number of podiatrists who warn about falling arches. There was one TED-like talk given by a liability lawyer. His YouTube demonstration of a potential slip and fall consisted of a piece of tile, a drop of water and a hand-held flip-flop.

“Flip-flops are the most dangerous shoe to wear in a mall,” said the lawyer. “And a slip and fall can be difficult to prove that the mall owner is responsible for the fall in a lawsuit as they look at the type of shoe you are wearing.”

Other internet results showed grisly photos of people in Indonesia involved in motorbike accidents. It’s a hot climate where most of the people wear flimsy footwear like mine. I don’t advise tarrying on that website.

The United Kingdom did a survey that seemed to prove that wearing flip-fops while driving causes more than a million accidents, or close calls, in that fair realm. Flip-flops slow braking time by .13 seconds. Of the 1,000 motorists surveyed, a third admitted to wearing them when driving. They admitted that least once in their lifetime of flouting disaster, the shoe has gotten stuck under clutch, brake or gas pedals.

Other shoes that can cause motor vehicle accidents are strappy sandals, work boots and stiletto heels.

Then this news item from an issue of The Sun: A steelworker in South Wales was found dead after a night of drinking in his local pub. The culprit? Flip-flops. While in his cups, he took a header on a grassy swale in that lovely country and was found the next morning stone cold and covered in dew.

Those who imbibe be warned: Wear better footwear.

I, on the other hand, was stone cold sober when I tripped in my backyard.

Ah, finally an item from the U.S. According to the National Floor Safety Institute, “Half of all accidental deaths in the home are caused by falls – most at ground level, not elevation.”

And from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: 36,338 people died in the U.S. in 2017 from accidental falls. Yikes.

Well, I wasn’t the first journalist to see a story in flip-flop mayhem. A Miami Herald article in 2014 found that 25,300 (out of 198,437) emergency room visits in that fair city were attributed to flip-flop accidents.

And please don’t ever wear flip-flops when mowing the lawn. The pictures of what can happen are dreadful.

Pat Johnson is the arts editor of The SandPaper.

 

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