Winter weather reminds us to be mindful about snowy and icy weather that creates dangerous conditions. People are often quick to prepare themselves for the roads in winter weather, responding to tips such as keeping ice scrapers, jumper cables and a blanket in their car, but hazards are also present while walking on driveways, sidewalks, streets.
Slips and falls result in more than one million emergency room visits each year, and these incidents are even more common during winter months. They can occur while walking to the car in the morning, entering or exiting a vehicle, or walking to stores or your place of work.
Though it is important to always be aware of conditions that could result in a slip and fall, there are additional preventative measures to take during the winter months. Here are five tips to avoid winter slips and falls.
1. Wear Slip-Resistant Shoes or Boots
Selecting the right footwear provides better traction to prevent slips on ice and wet surfaces. Shoes that have smooth soles do not provide necessary traction. Instead, they should have enough tread depth to allow water to disperse quickly. Tread depth decreases with time and distance, so be sure to replace your shoes if they have become worn down.
Snow boots provide additional grip and traction for walking through snow and ice. Wearing boots with insulation and grip help ensure safe travels; consider wearing them and bringing along more comfortable shoes to change into when you arrive at your destination.
2. Keep Your Hands Free
Even if you take precautions in walking in wintery weather, always be prepared to prevent further injury if you fall. If you must carry something with you, consider wearing a backpack that helps you distribute weight evenly and keeps your hands free.
If you fall, you may be tempted to use your hands to catch yourself, but this has the potential to cause injury to your arms or wrists. Instead, bend your knees and try tucking yourself into a ball while preventing your head, face, knees, or spine from hitting the ground.
3. Hold on to Available Railings and Support
Traveling up and down stairs are a common cause of slips and falls, especially during the winter months. Take slow steps on porch steps and other outside stairs and place your hands on available railings for balance.
Entering and exiting vehicles also calls for caution, as snow and ice in parking lots can be very slippery. Hold on to fixed objects in the vehicle such as the seat or grab bar and step carefully. Your steering wheel and your door should not be your first choice for support, as the steering wheel could turn if it is not locked and the door could swing open or closed.
4. Be Aware of Black Ice
Black ice is difficult to see because the thin layer of ice blends in with the road. It is a hazard for both drivers and walkers and is a reason you should always step carefully after winter weather. If you must walk across patches of ice, walk flat-footed with short steps and focus on maintaining your balance.
5. Watch for Wet Floors Entering Buildings
Snow and water from outside can be tracked inside and cause slips and falls. Wipe your shoes on a mat when entering a building and take caution in case of slippery surfaces. If you notice a wet surface, alert someone who can place a sign of caution until it is made safe again.
Hiring a Slip and Fall Attorney
Even what seems like a minor slip and fall can result in a serious injury. Some slips and falls from hazardous conditions can result in a legal claim.
If you have slipped and fallen, document the area in which you were injured and the surrounding conditions, and alert the property owner, if applicable. Many businesses and homeowners have insurance to cover the cost of injuries, and filing an injury report can help protect your rights if you are injured.
Seek medical assistance, even if your injury does not immediately appear to be severe. A medical professional can determine if you may have a serious or long-term injury. If you are injured, you might be entitled to money to cover expenses for damages.
At Dansky | Katz | Ringold, we have experience representing those injured in slip-and-fall accidents in seeking financial compensation for their pain, medical expenses and lost income. Contact our team today for a free consultation, or call our toll free number: 800-609-7577.