Snow Safety: Surviving the New Jersey Winter
Wintertime in New Jersey is a flurry of activity. You may be busy shopping for the holidays, getting out and enjoying the season with friends, or driving long distances to see family. All of these activities are made a little more beautiful, but also a little more difficult, by a heavy snowfall.
In fact, the most common ER visits during the winter months are for slips and falls and car accidents. To avoid those accidents and keep having fun this winter, consider these precautions.
Prep Your Car.
Before the first snowfall of the season hits, you can make some adjustments to your car to ensure you are prepared. First, consider investing in either snow tires or snow tire chains to improve traction. Snow tires are designed to remain flexible in the cold, and have a deeper tread that allows the tires to cut through the snow and grip the road. Although they cost a decent amount, snow tires are convenient because they’re also safe on dry roads and there is no need to remove them when driving on clear days. Tire chains are a less-expensive alternative to snow tires, and fit over traditional tires to improve traction. However, tire chains will not work with all cars, must be removed on dry roads, and may damage roads or driveways.
In addition to tire upgrades, you may want to consider putting together an emergency winter kit for your vehicle. Getting stuck and/or waiting for help in winter can become very uncomfortable or worse, making this kit a helpful (if not lifesaving) addition to your car. Items you should put in the box include first-aid materials, a radio, snow shovels, bottled water, snacks, a flashlight, and a few blankets to help keep you and your family warm.
Before you even get into your car, you should make sure you have as much visibility as possible. This often involves clearing snow and ice from the windshield and the rest of your vehicle. To clean the snow off of your car, invest in a high-quality snowbrush and start clearing snow from the roof, working your way down the vehicle. To clear ice, turn on your windshield defroster to warm the windshield and make the ice easier to scrape. Then, use an ice scraper to remove the ice from the entire windshield, not just in front of the driver’s seat.
Once you’re actually behind the wheel, cautious and defensive driving is key to avoid a winter weather car accident. Travel and turn at slower speeds, keep a further distance behind other cars in case it takes longer to stop, and avoid distracted driving behaviors. Keeping your focus on the road and the conditions will help ensure your safety.
Prepare Your Driveway.
So you followed the entire safety protocol above and made it out and back to your house safe and sound. Then, you slip while walking up your driveway and hit the ground. It would be a shame to put in all that effort just to get home and injure yourself anyway. Prevent slips and falls like this by clearing your driveway, walkways, and steps of snow and ice.
Darkness and snow are a bad combination. Make sure to replace any burned-out light bulbs and consider installing path lights to illuminate the way up the driveway along the sidewalk to the front door.
If You Have a Business, Make It Safe for Customers.
In addition to individuals protecting themselves from snow-related accidents, business owners should take steps to protect customers from getting hurt while on their properties. While business owners are not usually responsible for natural snow and ice deposits (in the parking lot, for example), they are responsible in certain cases. For example, if they have an unnatural slope that causes ice to form in hard-to-see places and don’t remove it from known pedestrian walkways into the store, they may be liable for someone’s fall. Storeowners should also put up “wet” or “slippery” signs and clean up any melted ice or snow deposits that get tracked inside the business.
Although preparing for winter snow may seem like a hassle at first, you will be thankful later. And while you can do everything you can to combat the snow and stay safe, you cannot control others. This is why you should always be aware of your rights and contact a knowledgeable New Jersey winter slip-and-fall attorney if you are injured due to a business owner’s negligence. Contact Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C., at (609) 240-0040 for a free consultation.
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