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Winter Cleanup Presents Health Dangers

BOSTON (CBS) - If you are just one of the many planning on heading out to rake your roof or shovel your driveway before the next storm hits, we have a warning straight from the emergency room.

Don't be fooled. Working on a roof under these snow and ice conditions is dangerous business. With worries about roofs collapsing and ice dams flooding your living rooms, a lot of people are climbing ladders or even standing on roofs to clear them. The emergency room at Brigham and Women's Hospital is seeing plenty of injuries caused by falls, and they're not just bruises.

Dr. Josh Kosowsky is an emergency medicine physician at the Brigham and he says people are coming in with serious injuries like "rib fractures, spine fractures, potentially even head injuries."

"They look at the snow," Dr. Kosowsky says, "And the snow bank may be three or four feet and they figure it's not really that big a fall and the snow looks really soft." But he says, because it's powdery, "You fall right through that snow and land the full 10 feet onto the hard pavement. It's just like falling off a roof without snow."

The Brigham E.R. is also treating injuries caused by shoveling driveways and sidewalks, including heart attacks.

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