RALEIGH – With the possibility of winter weather later this week, North Carolina hospitals are preparing to treat victims of snow related accidents and not just on the roads.
Hospitals say the number of patients hurt or killed in recreational activities goes up when snow and ice piles up.
"Every time we have a good snow, we get a surge of injuries as a result of sledding," said Dr. Osi Udekwu, WakeMed's Trauma Director.
In fact, Dr. Udekwu says last winter, the hospital treated several severe sledding injuries and even one death.
Doctors say a lot of sledding accidents result from when sleds are pulled by cars, trucks, or all-terrain vehicles. And if you just do a simple YouTube search, it's not hard to find several examples of those accidents in North Carolina.
"That is really a no no,” Udekwu said. “Because, the sled has no way of coming to a halt by itself. There are no brakes on the sled."
Dr. Udekwu says all age groups are at risk when it comes to snow related accidents.
"It really doesn't exclude anybody,” said Dr. Udekwu. “And the additional issue is that many of them are celebrating with alcohol or other intoxicants at the same time, and that really is a bad combination."
Experts say before you hit the ice, dress appropriately, and wear a helmet. If sledding in a neighborhood or cul-de-sac, make sure you close off the area to vehicles, and have adults supervise. And again, when on the sled, don't be towed.
"You wouldn't tow a vehicle with a tow rope with no control over the towed vehicle, and you shouldn't do it with a sled either," said Dr. Udekwu.