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Bit by Crocs?
Photo: Greg Macrae
CrocsTM have swept the nation. Soft rubber clogs, they are comfortable, washable, and easy to slip on and off. Air travel is a hassle. Lines are long, you have to wait forever, and you even have to take off your shoes when you go through security. Some people are making the best of a bad situation by wearing CrocsTM to the airport. If you have to wait in line, and take off your shoes, why not wait in comfortable shoes that are simple to take off and put on?

Except there is something ready to bite you if you wear CrocsTM at an airport: escalators and moving walkways. Soft rubber shoes can get caught in them. When they do, you can injure your foot.

The problem is not limited to CrocsTM. Any soft rubber or soft plastic footwear, including flip-flops, can get caught, entrapped, in the machinery of an escalator. If reported accidents have soared, it is probably because people are more likely to wear CrocsTM than other types of soft footwear at places with escalators. Nor are injuries occurring at epidemic rates. In Japan, with 40% of the population of the United States, reports ten shoe entrapments a month, nationwide. Even at that rate, it is cause for concern.

When your shoe is entrapped, you can sprain or twist an ankle. Some people have received deep gashes or had a toenail ripped off. In one case, in Singapore, a two-year-old girl wearing rubber clogs lost a big toe, when she got caught on an escalator. Injuries are most common with small children. Their feet are smaller, and their smaller shoes are more likely to get caught in the machinery. Small children tend to move around more than adults. How many times have you seen three and four year olds running in place? Because they are smaller, they get hurt more badly than adults.

Throw Them Away?

Does this mean you should throw your CrocsTM, flip-flops, or other soft rubber shoes in the trash? Not really. It means you should exercise caution when wearing them around escalators. Keep your feet away from the sides or the gaps between steps. Make sure you lift your feet clear at the end of the ride, so that you do not risk getting trapped. Be aware of where you put your feet.

What if you cannot do this? It is easy to get busy or distracted at an airport, rail station or a mall. Or what if you have a small child, who simply is not careful enough about their surroundings? In that case, stick the soft rubber shoes in a bag until you get to somewhere without escalators, where you can comfortably—and safely—wear them. Loafers or leather-soled sandals may be a better slip-on/slip-off option.

The foot you save may be yours—or your child’s.

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By Mark N. Lardas, copyright 2007, Mark N. Lardas, all rights reserved. Copyright © 2007 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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