The cold weather is now upon us once again in Ontario, and that means that a whole new set of dangers for serious injury face us on a daily basis — even for actions as benign as walking down the street or getting out of your car.

Outdoor conditions in winter can be hazardous, leading to everything from broken bones to traumatic brain injury. Utmost care is needed by all to avoid a slip and fall once the weather turns wet and icy.

And if your fall were to happen on a private property, remember that the Occupier’s Liability Act amended its rules in 2021, now leaving victims only 60 days to serve notice of damages for personal injury from a fall on snow or ice. It was previously a two-year window.

Per the Mayo Clinic, there are a number of factors that can contribute to one’s risk for a slip and fall, including:

  • Older Age
  • Chronic conditions
  • Medications that can affect alertness
  • Less than ideal vision
  • History of previous fall(s)]

Best tips for avoiding slip and fall in winter conditions

All that said, you can vastly reduce your chances of suffering such a fall if you follow these five tips for avoiding a slip and fall injury in the winter.

  1. Wear appropriate footwear
    • Make sure to have shoes or boots that have proper traction, such as a sole with grip. This can ensure you have better stability on a slippery surface, such as roads or sidewalks covered in snow or ice.
  2. Walk carefully, slowly and with stability
    • Avoid rushing, and take care walking, as hidden slippery road surfaces can be hard to spot. Walk with a stable, wide gait, and use smaller steps.
  3. Make sure your steps, walkway and driveway are always cleared of snow and ice
    • This could require hiring a service, but it is imperative, not only for your safety, but also for any visitors to your property who could suffer a slip and fall due to your negligence
    • Use salt to help melt ice
  4. When exiting a vehicle, step with both feet
    • An important tip that many people don’t adhere to: when stepping out of a car, the ground conditions are often unknown, so to add traction to your exit, swing both feet out of the vehicle first, then step with two feet flat on the ground. This adds greater stability.
  5. Take extra care in entranceways
    • During the winter months, often the first steps into a building, store or home can be the most slippery, due to wetness from boots/shoes entering from outside. Use extra caution in these situations.

How to avoid serious injury when falling

If you do suffer a fall, these tips can help cushion the fall, so to speak:

Improve your bone health: In the case of a fall, making sure you have adequate calcium and Vitamin D in your diet can ensure that your bones can withstand a hard hit to the ground.

Always have a cell phone with you: If you find yourself injured and unable to get up, you might need to summon help if no one is around.

Sometimes, despite our best intentions and efforts, and following all of these tips, winter will simply still get the best of us. If you or a loved does suffer an injury in a slip and fall, be sure to get medical attention as soon as possible.

And if you believe that it could be due to negligence on the part of the property occupier (e.g. not clearing walks, allowing for dangerous slippery conditions that could have been avoided, etc.) make sure to contact Horowitz Injury Law for a free consultation of your case. We have well over 35 years of experience handling slip and fall cases for our clients, and getting them the compensation they deserve.