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Winter weather may create beautiful snowscapes, but every white wonderland has a dark side. Snow and ice can create dangerous conditions, especially if you’re not prepared. Blizzards and other winter storms can happen at a moment’s notice, so it’s best to be aware of potential risks. Here are three, lesser-known winter hazards to keep in mind when planning for the colder months.

1. Black Ice

While black ice is not literally black, it’s a very dangerous hazard for both drivers and pedestrians. Black ice forms when falling rain hits an ice-cold surface, freezing on contact. This type of ice can occur on both sidewalks and roads, and can be extremely difficult to spot. When driving, Accuweather writer Kristen Rodman recommends keeping a close eye on your car’s thermometer. If temperatures around your car are below 32º F, the risk of black ice increases–stay alert for dark, glossy-looking patches on the road.

The best way to avoid black ice is to steer clear of driving during winter precipitation. Always practice more caution than usual while driving in these conditions if you must be on the road. Black ice is most likely to form in areas that receive little sunlight, such as under bridges and shaded trees. Drive and walk slowly in these areas, and don’t panic! If you feel your car sliding a bit stay off the brakes and glide over ice instead. Likewise, keep your balance when walking over ice and don’t rush to get past the icy patches.

2. Slip and Fall Accidents

Slip and fall accidents caused by ice and snow are fairly common during the harsh winter months. Although they aren’t unusual, these accidents can be devastating, causing broken bones and even fatalities. The best way to prevent slip and fall accidents is to be diligent about both snow and ice removal during the winter. Continuous snow removal, even during storms, will help keep sidewalks clear. Applying salt at temperatures of 12º F and higher will melt ice, keeping sidewalks less slick. When salt is not enough, applying sand can add traction to walkways.

Slip and fall accidents can also be avoided by walking like a penguin, putting all your weight on your front leg while walking. If you are the victim of a slip and fall accident, a slip and fall expert witness can help at every stage of the litigation process.

3. Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

One of the lesser-known hazards during harsh winter weather is carbon monoxide poisoning. The Ready Campaign states that carbon monoxide-related deaths and hospitalizations peak during winter months. This is most likely caused by the use of heating fuels indoors without ventilation.

During the winter months, it’s especially important to have functional carbon monoxide detectors in your home. These will alert you if carbon monoxide is building up in your home, giving you time to take action. To prevent accumulation, make sure all heaters are suitable for indoor use and are properly ventilated. Never use a gas-powered generator or grill indoors, even during a power outage. This type of equipment is not intended for indoor use, and can raise carbon monoxide levels in your home.

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