Preventing Falls on Slippery Sidewalks

If you live in the Snow Belt, you’re probably well aware of the hazard posed by slippery, ice-covered sidewalks. One of the most common mistakes made when removing snow is ignoring the ice that can form on sidewalks. This ice can lead to serious injuries and even death for people who slip and fall. Here are several ways you can prevent falls on slippery sidewalks.

Walk Like a Penguin

One of the best ways to avoid falling is to change the way you walk. When we walk normally, we support our bodies evenly with both legs. Unfortunately, ice makes this strategy unsafe, leading to slips and falls. The solution? Walk like a penguin. By keeping your body stiff and putting your weight on one leg at a time, you can prevent most slips and falls. If you’re a business owner, you might also encourage your customers to walk like penguins, perhaps posting a sign near your door.

For those with limited mobility, such as wheelchair users, ice can also present a challenge. It’s especially important to keep ramps and sidewalks ice-free for these people. Even if you’re not walking, you could still slip and fall on ice. Wheelchair users might also consider snow tires or other additions that will increase traction, reducing the risk of a fall.

Apply (and Reapply) Sand or Salt

Salt and sand are two of the simplest ways to prevent ice-related falls. While these products are easy to use, it’s important to know when to use each one. According to Jennifer Noonan, a writer for Bob Vila, salt will melt snow and ice in temperatures as low as 12º F. At temperatures any lower, rock salt won’t do much of anything. That’s where sand comes in. Sand won’t melt ice or snow, but it’s great for creating traction on slippery sidewalks.

At temperatures above 12º F, always remember to apply salt to sidewalks after removing snow. This will prevent any excess water from freezing. If temperatures are below 12º F, sand is your best bet. Do your best to remove ice manually, then liberally spread sand on sidewalks and other walkways. With either sand or salt, remember to reapply if more snow falls. Sand that’s trapped under a layer of snow won’t prevent falls as effectively.

Know If You’re Responsible

Sometimes falls occur in areas where the owner or renter wasn’t sure who was responsible for ice removal. If you fail to remove ice and this leads to a fall, you could face a lawsuit. If snow and ice removal were your responsibility, the lawsuit probably won’t end in your favor. Therefore, it’s important to know if you’re responsible for ice removal on and around your property. Accuweather staff writer Kristen Rodman encourages business owners and private citizens alike to understand local policies on snow and ice removal, and to stay on top of ice removal, even during a storm.

Get Help From an Expert

Perhaps the best way to prevent falls during winter weather is to contact an ice slip and fall expert. Such an expert will not only help you understand local laws and create an ice removal plan, but can also serve as an expert witness should you face a lawsuit. Swenson Consulting on your side is the best preventative measure you can take when it comes to ice slip and fall accidents.

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