With the cold wintry weather now upon us, it is time to talk about the dangers of slips and falls. Although it is not a fun topic to discuss, it is not something to be ignored. When you go outside in the morning, be sure to stay alert for black ice. Any source of water, from a leaking hose to rainwater dripping from a downspout to a gutter, can quickly freeze and become a slip and fall hazard to anyone in the area.

Always use proper footwear with good tread when you are outside in wintry conditions. If you walk or run outside at night or early in the morning, be sure to wear reflective clothing and use a good source of light. This will help drivers to see you, and the light also will help you to keep a good lookout for ice on the ground. When around your house, make sure there is no water leaking or dripping inside or outside your home. Any outside leaks can freeze overnight and be a hazard to you and others who come onto your property.

For example, I can recall a situation where the fire department had been called to address a water leak that was coming from the garage door on a vacant house. When the fire department arrived, the water had been leaking onto the driveway for some time. The outside temperature was below freezing. The water that had accumulated in the driveway looked like a puddle. As one of the fireman got out of the truck and began walking on the driveway to try to determine the source of the leak, his foot touched the black ice, and he slipped and fell onto the concrete, suffering significant injuries. This accident occurred in the middle of broad daylight. Although the water on the driveway looked like a puddle, it really was dangerous black ice and the fireman was severely injured from the fall.

If you see any areas around your home that have become icy, immediately put down salt or another safe ice-melt substance to get rid of the ice. Get rid of any standing water on any part of your property where people walk, because that standing water will turn into ice once the temperature drops back down.

If an area of your property is particularly prone to ice formation, put down orange cones to forewarn others that a danger is present there. Additionally, you should still put down a safe ice-melt substance to hopefully prevent ice from forming. When you are clearing ice and snow from your car, be aware of any snow that that falls off your car in case it does not melt and then re-freeze onto your driveway. When you arrive at any destination, make sure you check the ground for ice before stepping out of the car. Don’t assume that anyone has already cleared the area of ice or that no ice was ever there.

Above all else, use common sense and be safe. If you or someone you know have been injured in a slip and fall, speak to legal counsel immediately. They will be able to explain your rights and assess whether you have a claim for personal injuries.