This winter’s onslaught of snow and ice has sent residents slip-sliding to hospital emergency rooms and terrorized people who drive for a living, such as newspaper delivery drivers.
Unfortunately, this week’s forecast calls for more of the same.
The National Weather Service predicts a possible mixture of snow and freezing rain before 8 a.m. Wednesday, with subzero wind chills by Wednesday night. Thursday and Friday offer a chance of snow, with the best chance Friday night.
Dr. Jay MacNeal, EMS medical director at Mercyhealth Hospital and Trauma Center in Janesville, said the hospital has “absolutely” seen a spike in weather-related visits over the past two weeks.
“As soon as you try to walk, you’re down,” MacNeal said. “I myself fell in the driveway a couple weeks ago bringing the garbage cans in. It was not fun. I’m 44. I’m not a spring chicken anymore.”
To minimize dangerous tumbles and prevent emergency room visits, MacNeal offers this advice:
- Take small steps.
- Maintain good lighting in walking and driving areas.
- Clear driveways and sidewalks promptly.
- Take your time when walking on snow- or ice-covered surfaces.
Weather-related injuries from slips have included hip and back compression fractures, head injuries and intracranial bleeding, MacNeal said.
He said people taking blood thinners are particularly prone to internal bleeding and should be cautious.
“If somebody falls and they are on blood thinners, they need to come in and get evaluated and make sure there’s not any ongoing bleeding issues,” he said.
People should consider going to the emergency room if they experience lacerations, severe pain, deformity to a limb, loss of consciousness or severe headache and vomiting after a fall, MacNeal.
He said the hospital also has treated a handful of people suffering from hypothermia and has seen an increase in vehicle accident injuries.
Slippery roads also have created hazards for newspaper delivery drivers.
Terry Schumacher, distributions manager at The Gazette, said this year’s icy conditions are the worst he has seen in four years.
“It causes safety problems for the carrier personally and for their vehicle,” Schumacher said. “If you end up getting stuck, you’ve got to get unstuck. You’re rocking your car, you’re putting stress on your transmission, your tires, yourself.”
Schumacher said several drivers have gotten stuck, and a carrier slips and falls almost daily. Some carriers’ tumbles have taken them out of commission for weeks.
Many homeowners clear pathways for Gazette deliveries, Schumacher said. However, problems still occur because newspapers are delivered early in the morning when it’s dark and hard for carriers to see ice, he said.
“Generally, when you’re in the dark, by the time you know you’re in trouble, it’s too late,” Schumacher said.
One good thing about ice: Newspapers can slide, he said.
“If you go bowling with the paper on ice, you can sometimes get it really close” to the door, he said. “It’s not what you want to do, but sometimes it’s the only safe thing to do.
“This has been a challenging winter.”