Certain Dangers With Wintry Weather

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Knoxville (WVLT) - When the weather turns the sidewalk near your home into a sheet of ice, a fall can happen in a split second. That's one of the most common injuries that occur on ice, but there are many other dangers out there as well.

Medical reporter Jessa Goddard has more on the health risks of winter weather.

While we often hear about accidents that occur on the roads during icy weather, we don't hear about the more common ones that can occur right around your home.

"Believe it or not, the most common thing you see after a heavy snowfall is a heart attack," orthopedic doctor Hal Cates said.

That's usually caused by shoveling snow. It puts an enormous strain on the heart and puts people who don't exercise regularly at particular risk, but there are other problems that can occur while shoveling snow or simply walking to the mailbox. It's easy to slip and fall on ice, especially if you don't know it's there.

"One of the big concerns as an orthopedist is people do fall and fracture things on wet, slick or icy conditions, or snow," Dr. Cates said.

Orthopedic surgeon Hal Cates says ankle, wrist and shoulder fractures are all common injuries, but these injuries and others can, of course, be avoided if you're prepared. One way to do that is by preventing or minimizing ice from forming on your steps and sidewalk. You can use common table salt, but there are de-icing agents home repair experts say work better.

"You can apply it if they're expecting a heavy snow or ice. Apply it before the snow and the ice comes, or as it accumulates." Kent Fleming from the Witt Home Center said.

These agents break ice and also resist refreezing, but if you do slip, experts say, let the fall happen. Relax and don't stiffen up. Try to fall to the side to avoid hitting your head. Or even better, don't follow the example of your local television reporter and brave the elements. Stay inside and stay safe!

Again, one of the best ways to prevent injury is to be prepared. Arm yourself with the proper equipment, drink plenty of fluids and avoid alcohol. All of the above will reduce your chances of being seriously hurt on the ice or snow.