ER visits increase with snow-related injuries

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SALT LAKE CITY – Winter weather brings out a whole new set of injuries for emergency rooms. Doctors say when the white stuff falls, they average five to 10 patients a day with injuries directly related to the snow.

“It definitely increases with the snowstorms,” says Intermountain Medical Center ER Doctor Kyle Gardner. “We’re seeing a lot more of the ice on the ground.”

Where there’s ice, Gardner says their most common ER visit is slips and falls. Ogden resident Danilyn Hansen knows that all too well. Wednesday she was walking up the driveway to her home when she fell, sending her to the ER with a broken tailbone.

“I’ve fallen before on the ice,” say Hansen. “But never like this. Out my feet went from underneath me and I went a good six inches and came right down.”

Doctors say the biggest tip to avoiding winter injuries is to start thinking in terms of snow, or rather, slow.

“Certainly if you’re out and about on a day when it’s icy, be aware of the ice,” says University of Utah ER doctor Troy Madsen. “Be careful with it, and if you’ve got someone you can hold on to, if you feel unsteady.”

The best way to prevent slips and falls is to clear the ice and snow, but ER doctors say to beware, even that has its dangers.

“We definitely see a little bit of that, the back injury being common,” says Gardner. “A lot of people who are throwing out their backs, coming in with muscle spasms.”

“It seems like every winter there’s at least a couple people who have fingers who are cut off from snow blowers,” says Madsen.

Madsen says in extreme cases, people with heart conditions can have a heart attack from overexertion.

Top tips to avoid winter injuries include wearing helmets for winter sports, become aware of hazards, wear the right clothing and use the right equipment.