Safety Tips for Winter Storms
Anyone who had been looking forward to an early Spring had their hopes dashed this past weekend, when a series of major winter storms tore their way through the province. The effects can be felt throughout many parts of British Columbia. The South Coast has been coated in a blanket of heavy, wet snow that reached nearly 50 cm overnight in Squamish.
The rapidly accumulating snow caused massive power outages affecting thousands of BC Hydro customers in Vancouver, transit disruptions, flight cancellations, road closures, and treacherous walking conditions. And with more bad weather likely on its way, it is important for everyone to take some safety precautions.
The likelihood of being involved in a slip and fall accident is higher in nasty winter weather. Many of these accidents occur as the result of a property owner and/or manager’s failure to properly secure their premises.
Just as people braving the winter weather need to proceed with caution, so too must the owners and/or occupiers of commercial and residential properties take personal safety into consideration. In fact, in accordance with the provincial Occupiers Liability Act, property owners and/or the people in charge of the property have a responsibility to ensure the safety of people visiting their premises. Failure to fulfill this duty of care could lead to serious accidents with serious, potentially life-threatening outcomes.
According to meteorologists, more winter weather is on its way. Now is the time for everyone to review some winter safety tips, and for property owners and/or occupiers to ensure that their premises are safe.
Potential Hazards After Major Snowstorms
If you have been outside at all over the past few days, you will have likely already experienced how hazardous the icy, wet, and slippery walking conditions can be. When navigating treacherous sidewalks, driveways, parking lots, and other outdoor areas, even the most careful individual could accidentally slip and fall, unexpectedly sustaining serious injuries.
The recent spate of bad weather that continues to impact many parts of the province has created the perfect conditions for a number of common slip and fall hazards. This is especially true on properties controlled by occupiers that do not properly remove the ice and snow that has accumulated on their premises in a thorough, timely manner.
Uncleared ice and snow can conceal uneven surfaces, which can create tripping hazards. People visiting the property who may not be familiar with its features could unwittingly trip over these unseen hazards, causing them to fall and sustain injuries.
Perhaps the most dangerous slip and fall hazard to be on the lookout for is improperly cleared patches of slick, black ice. Property owners, managers and superintendents might employ landscaping companies or custodians to make sure any ice on the premises is thoroughly cleared and that the ground has been adequately salted to reduce the risk of injury-causing accidents. However, if these responsible parties fail to fulfill their duties, their negligence could result in a serious slip and fall.
The winter weather can also heighten the risks of slip and fall accidents after ice and snow has melted. When snow melts, puddles and runoff can form. If the temperature drops again, these patches of melted snow can freeze once again, creating slippery conditions for people who have become accustomed to warmer weather.
Walking in these weather conditions can be hazardous. That is why it is so important to prioritize your personal safety. If you need to go outside, try to keep the following safety tips in mind:
- Be aware of your surroundings
- Watch where you are going and be on the lookout for ice and other hazards
- Wear appropriate footwear
- Walk slowly and carefully at all times
- Use handrails whenever available
- Make sure your cell phone is handy and fully charged in case you need to call for help or take photos of accident-causing hazards
- Stay visible by wearing bright and/or reflective clothing
Unfortunately sometimes, despite taking all safety precautions, unsuspecting people can still sustain serious injuries as the result of slip and fall accidents on other people’s premises. It is important for property owners and/or occupiers to live up to their obligations and regularly maintain their premises in order to keep everyone safe.
Safety Tips for Property Owners
As a property owner and/or occupier, it is your responsibility to keep your premises safe in an attempt to prevent slip and fall accidents. In the context of slip and fall accident claims, the term “occupier” typically refers to the person or entity that is responsible for the property where the accident occurred. This could include:
- Property owners
- Property managers
- Business owners and/or managers
- Other parties and/or entities who control access to the property and are responsible for the safety of anyone who visits or uses the property
In preparation for the next round of bad weather, it is important for property occupiers to be mindful of certain safety precautions that should be taken. Here are some suggestions to make sure your property is ready for the next round of snowfall:
Regularly checking your property for potential slip and fall hazards is among the most important steps you can take to avoid an accident. Be vigilant about safety. Routinely check your premises for snow and ice accumulation and remove it immediately, using sand or ice to provide additional traction.
If you use a gas-powered snowblower, make sure you have enough gas on site in case you are unable to leave the premises to get more. If you use an electric snowblower, make sure its batteries are fully charged in case of weather-related power outages.
Ensure that your property has proper drainage to prevent the buildup of water and ice. Make sure any uneven surfaces that could create tripping hazards have been repaired. If doing so is not possible at the moment because of the last round of bad weather, display warning signs and pylons near all hazards to alert unsuspecting visitors.
When Slip and Fall Accidents Cause Injuries
The risk of sustaining serious injuries from a fall increases with age. In BC, one in three older adults fall once every year; between 5-25% of them suffer serious consequences as a result of their accidents. On average, each day 3 older BC residents lose their lives because of a fall.
While older adults are the most likely victims to be seriously injured in slip and fall accidents caused by improperly cleared ice and snow, accident victims of all ages can suffer severe consequences as the result of a property owner/occupier’s negligence. Injuries sustained in slip and fall accidents can range in severity, and could impact an accident victim’s ability to work, carry out routine functions of daily life, and continue supporting themselves independently.
If you were injured in an accident caused by ice and/or snow on someone else’s property, our slip and fall accident lawyers may be able to help you recover the compensation you deserve. To learn about the ways in which we may be able to help with your case, take advantage of a free initial consultation with Preszler Injury Lawyers by contacting us today.