Snow and ice-related injuries are adding to increasing pressure on emergency rooms across Calgary, which saw 364 slip-and-fall patients in the month of November — a 179 percent increase over 2021.
Rockyview saw the most patients, with 105, followed by South Health Campus with 89, Foothills with 78 and the Peter Lougheed with 74.
Dr. Franco Rizzuti, AHS Medical Officer of Health, said while seniors are more prone to injury from falls, cold and ice add to the risks for the entire population.
“We’re in the winter and with that continued snow, cold weather, we know there’s an increased risk of falls … And slips and falls are more common in some of these particular weather conditions,” he said.
“Falls are preventable, there are a lot of things we can do to hopefully reduce that risk … Because it’s added pressure on our already taxed health care system.”
Calgary saw about 29 centimeters of snow in November, compared to only 3 cm in November 2021, according to Environment and Climate Change Canada. Temperatures were also colder this year, with an average low of -10 C.
Rizzuti said injuries range from sprained wrists and ankles to broken bones, head injuries and exposure.
He said it’s important to be prepared before leaving home, with proper shoes and clothing. He also recommended sticking to plowed or shoveled sidewalks and roads whenever possible.
Last month, about 5,200 calls were made to Calgary’s 311 line for snow and ice on sidewalks. About 2,100 calls were made to 311 in November for service requests. The largest number of calls were requests for sand/salt on roads with approximately 900, followed by approximately 600 requests for road cleaning.
An extreme cold warning was issued Thursday afternoon for Calgary and large parts of Alberta, with wind chill values of -40 C expected overnight. It will remain cold for the next few days, with a low of -24 C expected on Friday night (the wind chill will make it feel like -31 C). Temperatures should improve by the weekend, but more snow is expected on Monday.