The first big winter storm for 2013 has hit a large part of the country, and people are getting hurt in slip and fall accidents in all parts of the United States. Texas emergency rooms were seeing lots of people coming for help after suffering fractures from falls on ice; Missouri hospitals, ditto.
In Tulsa, Oklahoma, emergency rooms were seeing literally dozens of people in their waiting rooms who had been hurt from falling on icy surfaces, suffering broken arms, legs, hips and more. According to a representative of Tulsa’s St. John Medical Center, some of these patients were injured not outside on sidewalk ice or slippery driveways, but from falls that happened after they thought they were safely inside: lesson being that wet floors can be the cause of a serious fall injury, too.
In areas like Illinois and Indiana, where people are more accustomed to dealing with wintery conditions than people in Oklahoma or Texas or Missouri, slipping and falling on icy surfaces may seem less of a danger — experience does help. Nevertheless, ice doesn’t play favorites and it’s important that everyone be vigilant during these winter storms to make sure they aren’t injured – perhaps seriously – in a fall. This is especially true for young children and the elderly.
Property owners, like grocery stores, shopping malls, restaurants, and other business establishments must meet their duty to protect customers, clients, shoppers, and patrons from slip and fall dangers — but we must all do our part (like wearing appropriate shoes) to insure that we are safe from a serious falling injury.
Safety Tips from ISU on Protection from Falls in Snow and Ice
Indiana State University provides the following safety tips for winter snow and ice conditions to avoid slip and fall dangers and injuries from falling:
1. Most slipping incidents occur on snow, ice, or wet surfaces near building entrances, on steps or ramps, and in parking lots. Be extra cautious in these areas.
2. Walking on snow or ice is especially treacherous and wearing proper footwear is essential. A pair of well insulated boots with good rubber treads is a must for walking during or after a winter storm. Dress shoes and high heels will not provide adequate traction on ice and snow.
3. Walk on cleared or sanded walkways and be cautious of fresh snow over pre-existing ice.
4. Use existing walkways and handrails where available; avoid “blazing your own trail” to save walking a few extra feet to your destination.
5. Never run on snow or ice. Instead, take short shuffling steps and walk at a slower pace so you can react quickly to a change in traction.
6. Be aware that approaching vehicles may not be able to stop at crosswalks or traffic signals.
7. Never hop down out of a vehicle onto snow or ice.
8. Keep your hands out of your pockets so you can catch yourself in case you slip and fall.
9. Carry only those items that are necessary. Heavy or bulky items can cause you to lose your balance. Having your hands full prevents you from catching yourself in a fall.
10. Be on the lookout for falling snow or ice when walking near buildings and other structures. Large icicles can fall silently and can be deadly.
11. At night, wear bright clothing or reflective gear as dark clothing will make it difficult for motorists to see you.
12. During the daytime, wear sunglasses to help you see better and avoid hazards.