Stories tagged falling

He plans on videotaping his trip: And now he'll know when to start.
He plans on videotaping his trip: And now he'll know when to start.Courtesy Greencolander
fall-proof pants. Sort of. More like pants that let you know when you're falling. Sort of.

The plaid, I have to say, isn't a bad marketing strategy, really. I think the sort of people who wear plaid pants are probably also the sort of people who fall over more often. Although one hates to generalize.

Dec
15
2007

Window washers: Remember, guys: belly down.
Window washers: Remember, guys: belly down.Courtesy Poagao
On the subject of falling from great heights (and surviving), the New York Times reported a couple days ago on a man who fell 47 floors from a New York apartment building and lived.

The man and his brother were washing the windows of the building when their platform gave way and plummeted into the Manhattan air. When emergency services arrived, one of the men was dead, but the other was already sitting up and conscious (though seriously injured). Authorities are still uncertain as to how he could have survived.

Their best guess, however, is that the man followed his training for such a situation. In the event of a high scaffolding collapse, apparently, one is supposed to flatten his or her body against the platform, belly down. The idea is that the greater surface area of the material should generate some small wind-resistance, slowing the fall. The lightweight material of the platform may also absorb some of the shock upon landing. The main thing is to be lucky, though.

Anyway, they think that the surviving man probably did something like this, and that his brother either did not have the chance to do so, or panicked, and leapt from the falling platform (which, I guess, is what instinct dictates).

The article briefly mentions two other similarly baffling fall-and-survive stories; an amateur sky-diver whose parachute failed to open, and fell from a mile up into a three-foot-deep duck pond, as well as the slightly less amazing - but closer to home - story of a drunk man falling seventeen stories in a Minneapolis hotel atrium (Twin Cities represent! Our drunks fall way better than anyone else’s!)

For a fun and slightly less horrifying lesson in density, gravity, and acceleration, come check out the SMM’s Science Live “Free Fall” show, where we drop stuff from the top of our own fifty-foot atrium (usually water balloons instead of drunks, though).

Jun
06
2007

Sign of the times: More stores, malls and public places are posting signs banning the use of "heeling' shoes, shoes that have a wheel built into the heel to allow them to be used like a roller skate. (Photo by voteprime)
Sign of the times: More stores, malls and public places are posting signs banning the use of "heeling' shoes, shoes that have a wheel built into the heel to allow them to be used like a roller skate. (Photo by voteprime)
In my job on working on the floor of the Science Museum of Minnesota, I see more and more young visitors rolling their way along with the new “heeling” shoes. They have a roller wheel equipped in the heel that allows the wear to scoot around like on roller skates.

Some of the floor staff can’t stand the shoes and quickly ask visitors to stop using them. If it’s not busy, I’m a little more forgiving, but when the museum is crowded, it’s a problem just waiting to happen.

Now a group on international doctors are chiming in…they don’t like Heelys (the brand name of the shoes). The list of injuries incurred from heeling incidents around the world includes broken wrists, arms and ankles; dislocated elbows and even a few cracked skulls.

A hospital in Ireland recorded 67 treated injuries to children over a 10-week period last summer. In the U.S., there were roughly 1,600 emergency room visits last year caused by “heeling” shoes, reports the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Crash landing: National statistics show that there were at least 1,600 emergency room visits last year in the U.S. due to the use of "heeling" shoes. (photo by stevejlovegrove)
Crash landing: National statistics show that there were at least 1,600 emergency room visits last year in the U.S. due to the use of "heeling" shoes. (photo by stevejlovegrove)
All of those incidents have led the American Academy of Orthopeadic Surgeons to put out recommendations that heelers wear helmets, wrist protectors and knee and elbow pads while their zigging around.

Further investigation by the medial organizations has found that many of the “heeling” injuries happen to kids new to the using shoe. Still, many schools and shopping malls have banned use of the shoes for safety concerns.

Overall, since being introduced to the market in 2000, more than 10 million pairs of “heeling” shoes have been sold, making it one of the hottest new segments of the footware business. And officials from Heelys this spring addressed the issue by noting that their shoes are statistically safer than skateboarding, inline skating and swimming. Safety instructions are included with each new pair of “heeling” shoes that are sold.

What do you think? Are these new shoes a problem? Should they be banned? What could be done to make them safer? Is it no big deal? Share your thoughts here with other Science Buzz readers.