Winter’s a wonderful time of year, full of magic and festivities, for many Americans. But it’s also one of the most dangerous seasons of the year. Trips, slips, and falls are the second most deadly personal accident type after auto accidents, and many accidents occur within the winter. In fact, while we tend to think we’re always safe as long as both feet are on the ground, the National Safety Council proves otherwise as more than 25,000 slip and fall accidents occur daily nationwide. And 16,000 people end up dying annually due to complications from those accidents. Fortunately, there are some simple but effective tips for avoiding slip, trip, or fall accidents this winter.
Walk Slowly and Pay Attention
There are too many hidden and obvious dangers during the winter to just walk at a normal pace. Ice, snow, slush, and even water can create slippery surfaces that can literally take your feet and breath away. Walk slowly and carefully and pay attention to your surroundings to help avoid a sudden and often painful slip or fall.
Wear Proper Footwear
An event or situation may call for dress shoes or heels, but those are instant dangers when walking on winterized walkways. If you really want to or are socially or professionally required to wear a specific type of dress or business footwear, pack it. But be sure to wear boots or other weather and slip-resistant footwear while walking outside or entering a building. That act alone can save you from having to take a side trip to the Emergency Room.
Watch for Black Ice and Slick or Wet Walkways
Midwestern winters are especially notorious for incidents and accidents involving black ice. The thin sheet of ice looks almost invisible on dark or previously wet surfaces but can be far slicker than water alone. But any type of wet, icy, or overly cold walkway or walking surface can cause a nasty slip, trip, or fall. Watch your walking area, move slowly, and react accordingly.
Limit the Load and Keep Your Hands Free
A slip or fall can happen at any time, but especially if you’re ignoring or oblivious to the dangers underfoot. It’s not always possible to avoid carrying items, but you should limit them as much as possible. Also, avoid walking with your hands in your pockets whenever possible as full or concealed hands reduce the chances of catching yourself during a fall. Use a backpack or shoulder bag in the event you do need to cart other items.
Keep Private or Business Walkways and Property Clear of Debris and Potential Dangers
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were over 42,000 winter weather-related workplace injuries and illnesses that required at least one day of recuperation in 2014 alone. Whether snow, black ice, slush, or even debris like frozen leaves, shovels, or buckets are in the way of business or residential walkways, floors, or even uneven stairs, the owners of that property can be sued for damages.
Allow Plenty of Extra Time
Winter weather conditions can create havoc whether you’re driving or simply trying to maneuver through an icy parking lot. So always plan to leave for your destination early to allow for potential detours, clothing changes, and quick cleanups. The extra time and attention may just help you avoid needing to call a competent Michigan personal injury attorney.