Slip ‘n Slides can be fun in the summer, but when re-created on many of the sidewalks across Havre, it can be dangerous.
Sidewalks have caused a growing number of people to slip and fall right into the hospital, where Kathy Labaty, director of the emergency room, takes care of them.
“We’ve seen numerous cases, a dramatic increase in patients presenting to the hospital emergency room in the last two weeks as a result of falls on ice,” Labaty said.
After seeing more than a dozen people in the hospital with wrist and ankle fractures in recent weeks, Gina Barker, Northern Montana Hospital public information officer, has advice to keep people off hospital hill.
“It’s very important that everyone use caution and allow more time to arrive at their destinations during these icy weather conditions,” Barker said.
Aside from navigating the ice, removing it can also be a pain.
With several snows, broken up by occasional above-freezing days courtesy of those ol’ chinook winds, Havre is covered by a dense layer of ice, like frosting on a cupcake.
Only this frosting can’t be removed with the finger of a lurking child: Physical work and hazardous chemicals are needed.
David Peterson, the city of Havre public works director, said that getting ice off of sidewalks can require ice-melting chemicals that must set for a while followed by repetitive chipping. Peterson, though, insists that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
“Take care of it early,” Peterson said. “If you get on it as soon as it’s done snowing, that’s the best way to take care of that.”
Clearing the sidewalks in front of one’s property has advantages aside from slip-prevention, like remaining compliant with city of Havre laws.
According to ordinance 9-1-26: Removal of Ice and Snow, “It shall be the duty of the owner of any premises ... to keep the sidewalk ... clean and safe for pedestrians and with all possible dispatch to remove snow, ice and slush and other impediments to safe and convenient foot travel ... within twenty four (24) hours of such accumulation.”
And the police department is responsible for enforcing this rule and letting people know they are violating this city ordinance.
Jerry Nystrom, chief of police, said that ordinance is the Public Works Department’s responsibility.
David Peterson said that it was actually the police department’s responsibility, but it wasn’t really a top priority.
“As long as I’ve been here, if something gets bad they’ll let someone know, but it is usually there to encourage people to do their best,” Peterson said.