Cold Weather Safety
Even though frostbite and hypothermia get a lot of attention at this time of year, they're not the most common cause of injuries during the winter. Greater hazards include falls, car accidents, and faulty furnaces.
Doctor Kathryn Dierks, from Genesis Medical Center in Davenport, says she treats a lot of people in the emergency room who've been shoveling snow.
"Patients who have underlying heart disease - if they start shoveling snow - they're putting their heart under strain. And so we'll see patients who come in with chest pain and can actually have heart attacks related to that."
Doctor Dierks says another major hazard is ice causing people to fall.
"I've seen a lot of fractures over the past month, people falling and slipping. Some of the more life-threatening injuries are patients who are on blood thinners, like Coumadin and Plavix. If they slip and hit their head they may have bleeding in the brain or we see some patients who slip, fall, and break their hip."
She occasionally sees someone with frostbite, like the homeless man this week without gloves who fell asleep in the snow, or hypothermia, because their furnace stopped working. But more often at this time of year, it's faulty furnaces that poison people with carbon monoxide.