With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season upon us, many of us will be rushing around on streets and sidewalks covered with snow and ice. This makes the risk of slip and fall accidents even greater. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists unintentional falls as the top cause of nonfatal injury seen in hospital emergency rooms, with more than 2.5 million injuries treated annually, including more than 21,700 deaths. According to Zurich, a leading property insurer, most slip, trip, and fall incidents occur on another’s property and happen most often in a parking lot or parking garage. This location accounts for up to 35 percent of all incidents, with the average slip and fall due to winter weather conditions costing an average of $12,808. Following close behind are falls on stairs, ramps, sidewalks, lobbies and entrances, with nearly 20 percent of all winter falls occurring on sidewalks.
Fractures are the most common fall injury, with hip fractures reported as the most serious and can lead to the greatest health problems, especially in older Americans. And according to the Brain Injury Institute, the greatest risk in a fall is that you will hit your head on the way down. Slip and fall accidents are a leading cause in brain injury with approximately 35 percent of all brain injuries caused by falls.
The best way to prevent a slip and fall accident is through precaution and awareness. Follow these winter safety tips to keep yourself safe this winter holiday season:
- Be aware of your winter weather forecast to be prepared for dangerous outdoor conditions.
- Wear appropriate footwear while walking outside, like boots with good snow and ice traction. Comfort and safety are more important than high-fashion this time of year.
- Walk with small, careful and precise steps when you’re walking outside in wintry weather to increase your stability on slippery surfaces, and avoid running or walking too briskly. Large strides can actually increase your odds of slipping on ice. Also, avoid sudden changes in direction while walking.
- While most people put their hands in their coat pockets to keep their hands warm while walking, it’s better to wear gloves that provide sufficient padding and keep your hands free since you may need your hands to break a fall if you slip.
- Be mindful of any wet surfaces since ice can form more quickly than you think. Just a few minutes of light, freezing drizzle can soon result in hazardous, icy walkways.
- Watch out for black ice. Black ice is water that has re-frozen under a layer of snow and is more dangerous than typical ice patches because it’s hard to spot.
- Avoid unnecessary distractions, like texting or talking on your cell phone, while walking on icy or snowy parking lots, streets and sidewalks.
If you or a loved one were injured in a slip and fall accident due to no fault of your own, contact an experienced Colorado personal injury lawyer who can evaluate your case and get the recovery you deserve.