The frosty winter weather isn't just putting a strain on our heaters, but also, hospitals. Many say they have seen a huge spike in injuries from people slipping on the ice. Broken arms, broken ankles – and even some serious head injuries. Emergency room officials say the danger is real, and the numbers of injuries are unusually high.
"I'm really scrupulous about safety issues. My kids hate me for it, my husband says, 'oh no, I'm not going to put my crampons on,'" said Williston resident Mary Tegel.
Whether it's buckling up or setting up ladders, Tegel says she is always extra careful. After the Ice Storm of 2013 covered the state in a sheet of ice, Tegel says she went to clear out her front stoop.
"I trooped off to the barn to get the ice chipper and boom, my feet were away from me and I was going down in a microsecond," said Tegel.
Tegel says she knew instantly something was wrong. A mess of broken bones in her arm and a surgery later she says it is a slow and frustrating healing process.
"I really count on having my hand back. I don't sit around. I hope I can lift stones for dry stone walling, I can draw. Architecture is my profession, design, planning, and I want to get back to work," Tegel said.
Tegel isn't alone. Dr. Stephen Leffler, the chief medical officer at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington says they have noticed a huge spike in people hurting themselves on the ice.
"But this year it's been a persistent three weeks worth of people that have fallen, broken their wrist, broken their arms, their elbows, hips -- we've even had some head injuries. So we have seen a big increase in falls this year," Leffler said.
Dr. Leffler says on a typical day the ER might not see anyone for a broken arm. But as the ice refuses to melt, many Vermonters are having a hard time staying on their feet.
"I mean the busiest day that I know of, is one day in an afternoon we had nine people come through in a couple of hours with wrist fractures. I can't tell you the overall exact number of injuries we have had, but it's been a significant increase. We felt it, orthopedics has felt it significantly," Leffler said.
As Tegel works on finding ways to make due during recovery, she says her personal goal is to have her hand back in action ready to garden when the snow melts.
Leffler urges people to use caution when walking their dogs because the ER has treated a number of people who fell when their dog tugged the leash.