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How to Avoid a Slip and Fall Injury this Winter

Winter increases the risk of slip and fall incidents, with ice and snow creating hazards on our sidewalks and pavement. One U.S. case study found that emergency room visits due to falls are 13.4 times more likely the day after snow fell versus a regular day.

Understanding and minimizing these risks is crucial to avoiding injury this winter. Although Wisconsin’s premises liability law requires property owners to take steps to reduce a visitor’s risk of harm, you can protect your well-being with a few helpful tips to avoid slipping and falling. 

However, if you are injured on ice this winter due to a property owner’s negligence, you may be able to seek compensation in a Fox Cities premises liability lawsuit with help from Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers.

Common But Avoidable Winter Hazards

Winter months bring unique challenges that require careful navigation on sidewalks, parking lots, and inside business entryways. Recognizing these common yet avoidable environmental dangers is the first step in preventing painful slips and falls.

  • Invisible ice. Often referred to as black ice, this transparent layer blends with the pavement, making it nearly impossible to spot until it’s too late—black ice forms when temperatures drop again after the sun has melted the snow.
  • Hidden ice. This slip risk occurs in shaded spots where the sun’s rays can’t melt the snow. It’s often concealed under fresh snow and can form when mild temperatures refreeze thawed snow, turning it into a hard, clear layer. It blends with its surroundings, making detection difficult until you’re upon it.
  • Compacted snow. What starts as powdery snow quickly becomes a dense, slippery surface once it’s packed down by traffic. This compacted snow can be just as slick as ice, particularly on inclines or steps where it’s easy to lose your footing.
  • Slippery entryways. On snowy or icy days, building entrances become danger zones as melting snow from footwear refreezes. These areas can quickly become a blend of puddles and ice due to dripping coats and umbrellas, leading to potential slips and falls.

Tips for Avoiding Painful Slips and Falls

Navigating the safety challenges the cold winter climate presents requires preparation and knowledge of the risks involved. Here are several strategies that will help you minimize the chances of slips and falls during the winter:

  • Wear appropriate footwear. Wear the right shoes for winter. Check your soles for wear and replace any shoes with smooth, worn-out soles to prevent slipping. Use footwear designed for winter conditions with deep treads and slip-resistant materials for a stronger grip on icy surfaces.
  • Walk mindfully. Distraction can lead to dangerous slips and falls, so staying alert is critical. Avoid using your mobile phone while walking across hazardous pavement or sidewalks. Instead, focus on the ground in front of you, watching for icy spots or uneven terrain. Knowing your surroundings allows you to anticipate and avoid slippery areas, making for a safer walk.
  • Use available support. Use handrails on stairs and ramps, especially when ice is present, to help maintain your balance. Grip handrails firmly for support if you encounter a slick spot. If no handrails are available, keep your body’s center of gravity low and take measured, cautious steps to maintain stability.
  • Choose a treated route. Choose a sidewalk or walkway treated with salt or sand, which offers better footing than untreated areas. Treated paths will have a gritty texture or slight discoloration caused by the salt, indicating a safer path in icy conditions.
  • Take additional safety measures. For an extra degree of safety, add traction aids to your shoes to improve your grip on ice and snow. Adopt the penguin walk by taking short, shuffle-like steps and keeping your body weight over your feet to stay balanced. Slow down and shorten your stride to prevent slipping and falling on slick surfaces.

Get Legal Guidance After a Winter Weather Fall

Businesses must maintain safe premises for visitors by spreading ice melt and removing snow from walkways. If they neglect this duty and you sustain an injury—despite taking precautions yourself—you may have a right to seek compensation.

Our attorneys at Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers have years of experience with winter-weather slip and fall claims in Wisconsin. We can help you determine if the business owner failed to take the right actions to prevent your injuries and, if so, seek a settlement to cover your damages.

Contact us today to discuss your case and learn your legal options.

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