First she heard the cracking sound.
A split-second later, Cheryl Zamaloff’s face was sliced by a three-foot-long icicle that gave way from the side of her Milton home.
“It was a pretty big piece,” said Zamaloff, estimating it at about 15 pounds. “And there was a pretty large gash.”
When she arrived at the emergency room, doctors told her she was the third patient treated that day for an icicle-related injury.
Add another hazard to the collection of winter dangers facing New Englanders. Weeks of heavy snow and brutal cold have produced spectacular growths of ice on roofs, and now they’re crashing to the ground.
Zamaloff feels fortunate not to have been injured worse. Doctors were able to seal the cut above her lip with an adhesive.
“If it had of hit me a little higher up, on my head, I don’t know what could have happened,” she said.
Massive icicles have formed around Greater Boston as ice dams build up on homes and buildings, growing in size and weight with each storm that rolls through.
Doctors at Boston Medical Center have seen cases similar to Zamaloff’s, said spokeswoman Elissa Snook, including “a couple of minor head lacerations” resulting from plummeting icicles. “I think during the winter months, you always see these winter-related injuries,” Snook said.
Experts say this weekend’s expected snow and freezing rain will only increase the danger. Large icicles must be removed, but that process brings risk of injury as well.
Steve MacDonald, spokesman for the Boston Fire Department, warned residents not to “mess around” with the ice growths, and instead, call in the professionals.
“If it’s a big icicle hanging from the first floor porch, and you can knock it down with a shovel, that’s one thing,” he said. “But when they are two or three stories high, it’s certainly something that should be addressed, but only by someone reputable who’s used to climbing ladders who do that kind of work.”
He said there’s too much potential for people to get hurt.
Jason Duane, of Jamaica Plain, learned about the potential hazards after dealing with a “torso-sized” icicle that fell from his house.
As Duane was getting ready to head out the door for work Thursday, he heard a “thoomp,” as something crashed to the ground outside.
“It was ridiculous. It was about a three-story drop,” he said of the ice chunk, which was so large he had to drag it because he couldn’t pick it up. “It could have done some damage. I’ve never seen an icicle that size.”