Slip and falls, as commonplace as they may seem, are dangerous. They account for more than one million visits to the emergency room each year. They can cause broken bones, back injuries, and head trauma. If you are over 65 years old or have elderly loved ones, the risk of suffering a hip fracture or traumatic brain injury in a fall is significant.
Whether you live in Colorado or visit this winter, you should prepare to avoid falling and getting hurt. Falling is always a risk, but for most of the year, the risk of slip and falls are low. It’s when winter hits and suddenly the ground is often wet and icy that your risk of falling skyrockets. You need to learn how to protect yourself and avoid a slip and fall.
The Most Common Causes of Slip and Falls
If you are going to deal with a Colorado winter, you should know the most common causes of slips and falls:
Hands down, some of the most common culprits in causing winter falls are snow, standing water, and ice. Snow and ice outside can become extremely slick. One misstep and your feet can slide out from under you. Also, the water that everyone tracks inside from the snow and ice can create slippery floors at entrances to homes, businesses, and government buildings like the post office.
A common cause of slip and falls is the combination of wet winter conditions and inadequate flooring. A lack of mats and rugs at entrances, inadequate mopping, or water-logged mats or rugs create slick indoor conditions. Also, flooring itself can be the hazard. Recently mopped and waxed floors create a risk for slipping, and rugs and mats that lack non-slip backing could move when you least expect it.
To reduce the risk of slip and falls during winter, homeowners, businesses, and government agencies need to maintain their properties. This encompasses shoveling snow, chipping away ice, putting down salt or ice met, mopping wet indoor walkways, and putting down appropriate mats and rugs. If you slipped and fall in an area that was not properly maintained, the property owner may be responsible for your injuries.
How to Protect Yourself From a Wintertime Slip and Fall
When you are out and about in Denver this winter, you can take a number of precautions to avoid slip and falls, including:
- Check the weather before you leave home: It is good to know whether you should expect rain, snow, or freezing rain.
- Wear proper footwear: Wear boots or shoes that have tread and can grip the ground.
- Salt and clear your own walkways: Make sure to shovel your sidewalks, remove ice, and put down salt.
- Be extra cautious at entrances and exits: When you are going into or leaving a building, pay particular attention to the walkways to avoid obviously slick conditions.
- Avoid your phone or MP3 player while you walk: To be on the lookout during a winter walk, avoid common distractions like talking on the phone or listening to music while you walk.
- Use extra support: If you use a cane or a walker because you have trouble maintaining your balance, do not be afraid to use extra support. If you typically use a cane, you may wish to use a walker in the winter. Or, for a cane, you may wish to buy an ice-gripping tip.
- Carry kitty litter with you: If you approach a possibly dangerous area that you cannot go around, you can use the kitty litter to soak up some water and provide traction.
- Keep your eyewear up to date: If you rely on contacts or glasses to see, make sure your prescription is up to date this winter.
Is Your Community Not Clearing Away Snow and Ice?
If you live in an apartment complex, and your lease does not require you to remove snow and ice yourself, then you can expect your landlord to remove snow quickly and protect you from ice buildup. Unfortunately, not all landlords take this responsibility seriously.
When your rental communities’ walkways, sidewalks, and parking lots are not being cleared of snow and ice in a reasonable amount of time, you should notify your management company in writing. Take pictures of the areas and note the date and time. Ask your landlord to address the issue. You also can request that ice melt or salt is placed in certain locations, such as inside the building’s entrance way, so tenants can put it down when necessary.
Also, check your local ordinances. Many towns and counties in Colorado have specific rules about shoveling snow. If your management company continues to ignore snow and ice, you may be able to complain to local officials.
If You Fall on Someone Else’s Property, Call a Denver Slip and Fall Lawyer
If you fall on another person or business’s property, obtain medical attention as soon as possible. You may not feel the emergency room is necessary, but do not put off seeing your general practitioner. If you are physically able to after a fall, take photos or video of the area. Or, if you need to go to the ER, ask a friend or family member to take photos or video. You want to document the conditions of the area as soon as possible. Then, notify the property owner of your fall as soon as possible.