While the winter of 2014 will be remembered for its significant snowfall, the winter of 2015 looks like it will be remembered as an icy one.
As temperatures have fluctuated between freezing and moderate, wet and damp surfaces have been freezing quickly and leaving us with sheets of black ice and slippery surfaces. A rise in injuries resulting from slip and fall accidents have been reported across the country, ranging from broken hips, arms, and legs to head injuries and back problems.
The elderly population is at most risk for serious injuries resulting from falls on the ice. Poor vision, muscle weakness, and side effects from medication increase the likelihood of the over age 65 population taking a tumble. Broken hips are common consequences for these types of slip and fall accidents and can prove to be a devastating injury to the elderly.
A lot of slip and fall injuries occurring during icy conditions are broken limbs that happen as people try to catch themselves from falling. Head injuries occur when an unsuspecting slip forces someone off their feet, and onto their back. Concussions, cracked skulls, and open head wounds requiring stitches can result in an extended recovery period, which can lead to lost wages and high medical bills.
Preventing Ice Slip and Fall Accidents
Though not all falls can be prevented, there are some steps that can reduce the risk of falling in icy conditions. First and foremost, sidewalks and stairs should be cleaned of snow and ice as soon as possible. Rock salt, kitty litter, sand, or gravel can be spread over these areas to provide increased traction. Be sure to wear shoes or boots that have non-skid soles, and be sure your footwear is securely fastened. It is wise to assume that all dark, wet areas are icy if temperatures are in the freezing range.
According to one safety expert, walking like a penguin can also help you stay upright. Keep your feet apart, tilting slightly outward, use short shuffling steps, and keep your arms slightly away from your body. This positioning will help to stabilize your balance. If you do fall, try to relax and turn your body toward the side. If your body is tense or you fall face first or backwards, your injuries could be more severe.
In the event that you do fall and get hurt, it is important to seek medical attention and document your injury. In serious situations, you may be able to hold a property owner responsible if they did not follow local laws and ordinances for removing snow and ice. Compensation can help with medical bills, prescriptions, therapy, and lost wages.
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