The winter weather can be cold, harsh, and unforgiving – which is why it’s so important to stay prepared for the freezing temperatures and the dangerous conditions that accompany them. From slippery sidewalks to snow-covered roads, the winter season demands a proactive approach to help prevent personal injuries while performing daily routines.
Since winter hazards can manifest in a variety of forms that contribute to personal injuries, like car accidents or slip and falls, being properly prepared can be an effective measure in ensuring the safety of yourself and others.
Choosing Appropriate Winter Wear
While it might seem like a no-brainer, remember that choosing the right winter attire can help to reduce your risk of frostbite and hypothermia after prolonged exposure to the cold. Did you also know that choosing the right footwear can be instrumental in preventing a potentially debilitating slip and fall accident?
Purchasing winter boots that have appropriate tread and ankle support can help to prevent slip and fall accidents on icy or snowy walkways. Strong support can help prevent injuries to your ankles or heels in the event a slip and fall does occur. Wearing boots or other shoes without proper tread or support can put you at risk of ankle, foot or shin fractures, as well as ankle sprains and other injuries.
Property owners have a responsibility to ensure that their residences or places of business are clear of any potential hazards, like ice and snow.
Private Property Owners
If you are a homeowner, landlord, or business owner, you’ll need to make a reasonable attempt to keep your property (and yes, that generally includes sidewalks, too!) free of any ice or snow that could pose a hazard to others. Consider keeping rock salt and a sturdy shovel on hand to combat the pesky snow and ice after a snowfall. Interiors of businesses should also have weather mats and proper floor signage near particularly high-traffic indoor areas.
Although municipalities also have a responsibility to keep government property like parks, federal buildings, and roadways clear from snow and icy debris, there is always a risk that you may be stuck on the road before plows can be deployed. As a result, it’s important to make sure your car is prepared for slick and snowy roads.
Preparing Your Vehicle
Winter roads can be slippery, slushy, and downright dangerous if your car is not equipped to properly handle the conditions. Make sure your vehicle is snow-ready by winterizing it before hitting the roads. Here are some important checklist items to consider:
- Check Your Tire Tread: Inspect your tires to ensure that there is the correct amount of tread on your tires using the “penny test.” Place the penny with Lincoln’s head facing you, and stick the penny in the tread so that the top of Lincoln’s head is no longer visible. If his entire head is visible while in the groove, it’s time to replace your tires.
- Have Adequate Tire Pressure: Low tire pressure can be dangerous, especially on winter roads. If your tire pressure light goes on, don’t ignore it.
- Consider Snow Tires: Making the switch to snow tires, or even all season tires, in the winter months can make a difference when it comes to driving in heavy snow and icy conditions.
- Inspect Your Car’s Battery: A car’s battery capacity lessens in colder weather. Have a professional check your battery to avoid any mishaps in inclement weather.
- Make Sure Your Car’s Fluids Are Filled: Regular maintenance of your car, which includes checking your antifreeze, oil, and windshield wiper fluids, can help you stay prepared for cold winter drives.
- Check Your Heater: Not having a properly functioning heater may not matter in the summer, but you’ll need your heater to make sure that your windows are clear of ice, frost, and snow in the winter months.
- Keep An Emergency Kit On-Hand: In case you become stranded, keep an emergency kit in your car, which may include the following: Sand for traction, ice scraper, jumper cables, blankets, car phone charger, flares or a reflector.
By keeping your vehicle well-maintained, you can potentially prevent an avoidable accident while out on the road this winter.
Practicing Safe Driving
It’s a great idea to drive safely all year round, but these practices become even more crucial during inclement weather.
- Drive slowly: Adjust your speed to account for lower traction when driving in snow or ice.
- Accelerate and decelerate slowly: Apply gas and brake slowly to avoid skidding, hydroplaning or fishtailing, especially when making turns.
- Increase your following distance: Adding an increased margin of safety will give you more space between you and the car in front of you in case you need to make a stop on a potentially slick road.
- Know your brakes. Whether you have antilock brakes or not, keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal if you need to stop.
Remember, not everyone on the road follows safe driving practices. Even in the winter, you still run the risk of a collision with distracted drivers, reckless drivers, or even just drivers who make a mistake on the road or fall victim to dangerous road conditions. By staying prepared and utilizing safe driving practice, you’re doing your part to avoid an accident with other motorists around you.
What To Do If You’re Injured This Winter
Staying one step ahead of winter weather hazards can help you to avoid injuries, both to yourself and others. While winter weather preparedness is the best tool to avoid a potentially life-changing injury, accidents can still happen. If you’ve experienced a winter weather accident, take the following steps:
- Call The Police or Appropriate Personnel To The Scene: If you’re involved in an accident, pull over to safety and call 911 to file a police report. If you’re injured in a slip and fall at a store or apartment complex, call the appropriate personnel to file an accident report or the police if necessary.
- Take Photos and Video: If you’re able to, take photos and video of what caused your accident including damages to your vehicle (if applicable), weather conditions, lack of signage, etc.
- Seek Medical Treatment: As soon as practicable after the accident, you should seek medical attention. Even if you feel as though you may not have sustained major injuries, some seemingly minor injuries (even bumps and bruises) can prove to be a significant problem over time, with lasting complications.
- Call an Attorney: After any winter weather accident, it’s a good idea to contact a trusted personal injury attorney to review your case. Working with an attorney can ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive a fair settlement from the insurance company.
Winter Weather Accident? Call Cellino.
Staying one step ahead of winter weather hazards can help you to avoid injuries, both to yourself and others. While winter weather preparedness is the best tool to avoid a potentially life-changing injury, accidents can still happen.
If you’ve experienced a winter weather accident, contact the attorneys at Cellino Law. Our attorneys have the knowledge and experience necessary to prove your case against the insurance company and get you the compensation you deserve.
To schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team, call us at 888-888-8888 or fill out an online form to get in touch with us.
Content checked by the personal injury attorney Ross Cellino. As a family man and a trial attorney, I pride myself on winning cases and serving the community. With over 35 years of experience, I understand the function of a jury, how juries arrive at conclusions, and the role that the jury plays in administering justice. I know how to win cases. You can find us in Manhattan, Buffalo, Melville, Rochester, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens and other locations throughout New York.
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